Kansas City Royals – MLB Trade Rumors https://www.mlbtraderumors.com Mon, 23 Apr 2018 00:48:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Royals Notes: Buchholz, Perez, Gordon https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/al-injury-notes-rangers-royals-mariners-orioles.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/al-injury-notes-rangers-royals-mariners-orioles.html#comments Sun, 22 Apr 2018 19:45:10 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=120563
  • The Royals have promoted right-hander Clay Buchholz from Double-A to Triple-A, per Tony Boone of the Omaha World-Herald. Buchholz will make a rehab start Sunday, his second of the year, and could debut with the Royals as early as next Saturday, Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com suggests (Twitter link). The 33-year-old Buchholz, who missed nearly all of last season with the Phillies after undergoing surgery to repair a flexor tear in his right forearm, joined the Royals last month on a minor league contract. That deal includes a May 1 opt-out, perhaps making it all the more likely the Royals will promote him – especially considering how poorly fifth starter Eric Skoglund has fared in the early going.
  • Meanwhile, injured Royals cornerstones Salvador Perez and Alex Gordon are “very close” to returning, manager Ned Yost told Rustin Dodd of The Athletic and other reporters on Sunday. Yost added that both players could come back from their rehab assignments during Kansas City’s next series, which begins Tuesday. Perez suffered a Grade 2 MCL tear in his left knee on March 28, while Gordon has been out since April 10 with a labral tear in his left hip. Gordon got off to a woeful start (.174/.208/.217 in 24 PAs), as has his team, which entered Sunday with the worst record in the AL (4-15).
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    Buchholz Pitching Well With Opt-Out Date Looming https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/al-central-notes-v-mart-buchholz-eloy-cordell.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/al-central-notes-v-mart-buchholz-eloy-cordell.html#comments Thu, 19 Apr 2018 18:30:34 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=120381
  • The Royals assigned minor league signee Clay Buchholz to Double-A after he showed well in extended Spring Training, tweets MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan. Buchholz, who missed nearly all of the 2017 season following surgery to repair a flexor tear in his right forearm, tossed 4 2/3 shutout innings with one hit, two walks and five strikeouts in the first of what should be multiple rehab outings. Flanagan reminds that Buchholz has a May 1 opt-out date in his deal, however, so Kansas City could have to make a call on the longtime Red Sox righty before too long. With Nate Karns on the disabled list and Eric Skoglund struggling through his first two starts, there does appear to be room to fit Buchholz into the mix in Kansas City.
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    Rosenthal’s Latest: Realmuto, Moustakas, Machado, Donaldson https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/rosenthals-latest-realmuto-moustakas-machado-donaldson.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/rosenthals-latest-realmuto-moustakas-machado-donaldson.html#comments Mon, 16 Apr 2018 04:45:35 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=120116 The Mets made repeated inquiries on Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto during the offseason, says Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic in a video tweet. They also asked the Marlins about Starlin Castro. However, at that point in the winter, the club had just traded Christian Yelich to the Brewers, and they had also unloaded the contracts of Dee Gordon, Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna; they weren’t looking to cut any more salary at that moment in time. While the Mets are prepared to roll with Tomas Nido and Jose Lobaton for now, Rosenthal suggests that the club could attempt to revisit Realmuto discussions at some point.

    More from Rosenthal…

    • Although it’s early, Rosenthal suggests that Mike Moustakas looks like a hot trade candidate, citing his physical condition and low salary as selling points for the Royals third baseman. According to GM Dayton Moore, Moustakas is “running as well as he ever has.” Rosenthal figures that Kansas city will be among the most active trade deadline sellers in July, and could also dangle southpaw Danny Duffy, second baseman Whit Merrifield and closer Kelvin Herrera.
    • The shifting power structure of Orioles ownership might affect the way the club approaches a potential Manny Machado trade, should they end up willing to deal him. Peter Angelos was always opposed to making trades with the division-rival Yankees, but the younger Angelos’ might not place such a restriction on the concept. There are a number of other reasons to throw cold water on the idea of a Machado-to-Yankees swap, as Rosenthal notes, such as the presence of Brandon Drury and the Yankees’ possible focus on pitching. Still, the idea seems more plausible now that Peter Angelos’ sons are more active in the running of the club.
    • One rival executive estimates that there are “tens of millions” of dollars riding on the health of Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson’s shoulder. Rosenthal posits that the former AL MVP will be much less valuable as a free agent if there are questions surrounding his ability to play third base; much of his value lies in his defensive prowess. Being viewed as a first base/DH type for the bulk of his remaining career could eliminate some NL teams as suitors, and it doesn’t help that Donaldson is about to turn 33.
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    Salvador Perez Could Return In Next Couple Weeks https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/injury-notes-t-walker-brewers-s-perez-deshields.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/injury-notes-t-walker-brewers-s-perez-deshields.html#comments Sun, 15 Apr 2018 03:17:44 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=120032
  • Royals catcher Salvador Perez could make his 2018 debut during the team’s next homestand, which runs from April 24-29, Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com writes. Perez, who suffered a Grade 2 MCL tear in his left knee on March 28, began a rehab assignment at the Double-A level on Saturday. The Perez-less Royals have gotten terrible offensive production early this year from behind-the-plate fill-ins Drew Butera and Cam Gallagher, who combined for a .175/.227/.250 line entering Saturday. Thanks in part to their struggles, Kansas City’s a woeful 3-10.
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    Royals Front Office Was "Split" On Re-Signing Gordon https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/heymans-latest-arrieta-lucroy-tigers-puig-gordon-k-rod-acuna.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/heymans-latest-arrieta-lucroy-tigers-puig-gordon-k-rod-acuna.html#comments Sat, 14 Apr 2018 14:59:13 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=119967
  • “It was very much a split decision” within the Royals front office to re-sign Alex Gordon to a four-year, $72MM deal in the 2015-16 offseason.  Gordon’s return to Kansas City was seen as something of a surprise at the time, though he had a strong personal desire to return to the team and the Royals were willing to spend extra to retain a key member of their World Series-winning team.  Gordon was entering his age-32 season at the time, however, and some in the organization felt “he had had worn down by that point” and wasn’t a good investment.  These concerns seem to have been well-founded, as Gordon has hit just .213/.300/.343 over 1071 PA through two-plus years of that contract.

    [SOURCE LINK]
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    Alex Gordon Placed On DL With Labral Tear In Left Hip https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/alex-gordon-placed-on-dl-with-labral-tear-in-left-hip.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/alex-gordon-placed-on-dl-with-labral-tear-in-left-hip.html#comments Tue, 10 Apr 2018 20:42:08 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=119680 The Royals announced that they’ve placed left fielder Alex Gordon on the 10-day disabled list with a labral tear in his left hip. Recently claimed outfielder Abraham Almonte has been recalled from Triple-A Omaha to take his place. Kansas City didn’t provide an immediate timeline within its announcement, though manager Ned Yost suggests that the injury may not be as bad as it sounds (Twitter link via Rustin Dodd of The Athletic). Yost said that Gordon will be re-evaluated in five days and could return as soon as two weeks down the road in a best-case scenario.

    Gordon, 34, inked a franchise record four-year, $72MM contract with the Royals in the 2015-16 offseason. At the time, the left fielder had made three consecutive All-Star teams and been one of the key factors in the Royals’ return to prominence in the American League Central. From 2011-15, Gordon slashed .281/.359/.450 (121 OPS+) and took home four Gold Glove Awards. Baseball-Reference pegged his efforts at 27.2 wins above replacement in that five-year peak, while Fangraphs credited him with 24 WAR.

    However, Gordon’s production immediately went south in the first season of a four-year contract that has transformed from a cause for celebration among Royals fans to an albatross deal for the franchise. Since Opening Day 2016, Gordon has posted a woeful .213/.300/.343 slash in 1071 plate appearances, missing time along the way with a fractured right wrist (in May 2016). He’s still owed $20MM in 2018 and 2019, plus a $4MM buyout of a mutual option for the 2020 season.

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    Danny Duffy Drawing Trade Interest https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/quick-hits-duffy-melky-indians-brewers-giants.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/quick-hits-duffy-melky-indians-brewers-giants.html#comments Sun, 08 Apr 2018 03:26:19 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=119505 Royals left-hander Danny Duffy was a popular name in trade rumors during the offseason, but he ended up staying put. Duffy remains a trade candidate, however, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. It would take “the right package of prospects” to land the 29-year-old Duffy, Cafardo writes. Duffy’s under control through 2021 for a total of $60MM. He’s off to a rough start this year – albeit over two just two appearances – having allowed eight earned runs on 10 hits and five walks (with eight strikeouts) in 9 2/3 innings.

    • There are teams interested in signing free-agent outfielder Melky Cabrera to a minor league deal, per Cafardo. It’s unclear, though, whether the 33-year-old would be open to signing a minors pact. An inability to contribute in the field or on the base paths have likely been the main culprits for Cabrera’s unemployment, and it doesn’t help that he hit an uninspiring .285/.324/.423 (98 wRC+) across 666 plate appearances between the White Sox and Royals in 2017.
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    Royals Re-Sign Kyle Zimmer https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/royals-re-sign-kyle-zimmer.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/royals-re-sign-kyle-zimmer.html#comments Fri, 06 Apr 2018 23:05:07 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=119408 The Royals have re-signed righty Kyle Zimmer, as Rustin Dodd of The Athletic was among those to report on Twitter. He’ll return to the organization on a minor-league deal.

    That outcome was just what the Royals hoped for when they removed the talented, but oft-injured hurler from their 40-man roster and ultimately released him. Clearly, no other teams were willing to utilize a 40-man spot to take a chance on Zimmer; evidently, none offered a better opportunity to him otherwise.

    Zimmer, 26, is still working back from shoulder problems that are the latest in a line of ailments. The fifth overall pick in the 2012 draft, he has shown well when healthy. Zimmer has a 3.54 ERA in the minors, with 10.8 K/9 against 3.1 BB/9, but has compiled those numbers in just 259 total innings.

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    Royals Release Kyle Zimmer https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/royals-place-kyle-zimmer-on-release-waivers.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/royals-place-kyle-zimmer-on-release-waivers.html#comments Thu, 05 Apr 2018 20:05:14 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=119128 April 5: Zimmer has cleared unconditional release waivers and is now a free agent, the Royals announced.

    April 3: The Royals have placed former top prospect Kyle Zimmer on release waivers, as Maria Torres of the Kansas City Star was among those to report (Twitter links). He had been designated for assignment recently.

    It is not entirely clear why Zimmer was placed on release rather than outright waivers, but the Royals evidently do not plan to bid adieu if he does clear. Rather, Torres notes that the hope would be to plug Zimmer back in the system — presumably, on a new minors deal — if another club does not elect to put him on its 40-man roster or otherwise woo him with a more appealing offer.

    The 26-year-old Zimmer has not yet had a chance at making good on his promise owing to a litany of injuries. He has already undergone elbow, shoulder, and thoracic outlet procedures since being taken fifth overall in the 2012 draft.

    Shoulder troubles again limited Zimmer last year, when he worked to a 5.40 ERA in 36 2/3 innings in the upper minors. But he was long rated as one of the game’s hundred best prospects and has recorded 310 strikeouts in his 259 career minor-league frames.

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    Angels Acquire Miguel Almonte, Designate Juan Graterol https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/angels-acquire-miguel-almonte-designate-juan-graterol.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/angels-acquire-miguel-almonte-designate-juan-graterol.html#comments Wed, 04 Apr 2018 16:53:07 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=119206 The Angels have acquired righty Miguel Almonte from the Royals, per a club announcement. Cash or a player to be named later will head back in return for Almonte, who has been optioned to Triple-A by the Halos. To create an opening on the 40-man roster, the Los Angeles organization designated catcher Juan Graterol for assignment.

    Almonte, who was removed from the 40-man recently to create space for a player of the same last name, will celebrate his 25th birthday today by joining a new organization after seven years in the Kansas City system. While he was once viewed as a quality prospect, Almonte has had trouble earning MLB opportunities and has in recent years been shifted mostly into a relief role.

    Still, Almonte’s arm obviously caught the attention of the Angels front office. He threw 47 innings of 1.72 ERA ball last year in the upper minors, over which he recorded 52 strikeouts against just 13 walks. But injuries again limited him in 2017 and Almonte is slated for some further time off after dealing with shoulder problems this spring.

    As for the 29-year-old Graterol, he has seen limited MLB chances with the Halos over the past two seasons. He does have plenty of experience in the upper minors over a dozen-year professional career. Graterol carries a .652 OPS in his 353 Triple-A plate appearances and a .690 mark over 477 turns with the bat at the penultimate level of the minors.

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    Yankees Acquire Cody Asche https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/yankees-acquire-cody-asche.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/yankees-acquire-cody-asche.html#comments Wed, 04 Apr 2018 16:09:38 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=119197 The Yankees have acquired infielder/outfielder Cody Asche from the Royals, per a club announcement. Cash or a player to be named later will head to Kansas City in return.

    Asche had joined the Royals organization on a minors deal over the offseason. He was expected to provide a depth option there but will instead do so for the New York organization after today’s swap.

    The former Phillies prospect has certainly had his chances in the majors, but carries only a .234/.293/.376 batting line over 1,349 plate appearances in his career. He did hit well last year at Triple-A, though, and performed well this spring with a .269/.412/.500 slash.

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    Royals Claim Abraham Almonte, Designate Miguel Almonte For Assignment https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/royals-claim-abraham-almonte-designate-miguel-almonte-for-assignment.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/royals-claim-abraham-almonte-designate-miguel-almonte-for-assignment.html#comments Mon, 02 Apr 2018 18:50:54 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=119040 The Royals have claimed outfielder Abraham Almonte off waivers from the Indians and designated right-hander Miguel Almonte for assignment, tweets MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan. Cleveland had designated the former of the two for assignment when setting its Opening Day roster.

    Abraham Almonte, 28, was on the outside looking in of a jam-packed outfield mix in Cleveland. He’ll have a clearer path to playing time in Kansas City, where Jon Jay, Alex Gordon, Jorge Soler and Paulo Orlando comprise the primary outfield unit in the Majors in the wake of Jorge Bonifacio’s 80-game PED suspension. The switch-hitting Almonte had a strong half-season showing for the Tribe in 2015 but missed half the 2016 campaign due to an 80-game PED suspension and hit just .249/.304/.384 in 389 plate appearances from 2016-17.

    As for Miguel Almonte, who’ll turn 25 on Wednesday, the hard-throwing righty has long ranked as one of the Royals’ top organizational prospects, but his star has faded in recent seasons. He’s tossed 10 2/3 innings in the Majors between 2015-17, but he’s yet to establish himself at the game’s top level. Injuries have played a massive role in stalling the younger Almonte’s development. Last season, he threw just two innings with Kansas City’s Triple-A affiliate in Omaha, and Flanagan tweets today that Almonte had been ticketed for the minor league disabled list to open the season due to posterior shoulder soreness.

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    Royals Have Largest Bonus Pool For 2018 Draft https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/al-central-notes-draft-pools-royals-pena-reyes-iglesias-tribe.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/al-central-notes-draft-pools-royals-pena-reyes-iglesias-tribe.html#comments Mon, 02 Apr 2018 03:11:59 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=118996 The Royals will have the largest bonus pool of any team in baseball for this summer’s amateur draft, MLB.com’s Jim Callis writes.  Clubs were informed earlier this week about the size of their draft pools, as well as the slot values for each pick that falls within the draft’s first 10 rounds, plus the Competitive Balance rounds (for smaller-market teams) and compensatory rounds for teams that lost qualifying offer-rejecting free agents.  Kansas City has selections in both of those extra rounds, with a pick (the draft’s 40th overall selection) in Competitive Balance Round A and two compensatory picks (33rd and 34th overall) obtained when Lorenzo Cain signed with the Brewers and Eric Hosmer signed with the Padres.

    The Royals have $12,781,900 in total to spend within their draft bonus pool, placing them just ahead of the Rays ($12,415,600) and Tigers ($12,414,800).  Detroit owns the first overall pick in the draft, which comes with a recommended slot price of $8,096,300.  Be sure to check out Callis’ piece for the full rundown of slot prices and the order of the draft’s first 10 rounds, though the draft order could still potentially be shifted if any of the Competitive Balance Round picks are traded.  These are the only such draft picks that are eligible to be dealt, and they can only be dealt once the regular season has started.

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    Offseason In Review: Kansas City Royals https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/offseason-in-review-kansas-city-royals-9.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/offseason-in-review-kansas-city-royals-9.html#comments Sat, 31 Mar 2018 21:55:39 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117377 This is the latest entry in MLBTR’s 2017-18 Offseason In Review series.  Click here to read the other completed reviews from around the league.

    Despite their reported intention to rebuild, the Royals spent much of the offseason courting Eric Hosmer and made more short-term signings than trades that indicated a lengthy re-build is at hand. Kansas City still remains near the top of its payroll comfort zone, however, and looks like a long shot to contend.

    Major League Signings

    Notable Minor League Signings

    Trades and Claims

    Notable Losses

    Needs Addressed

    The Royals entered the offseason with several key pieces hitting the open market, including cornerstones Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas. Reports early in the offseason indicated that a lengthy rebuild was in store for a Royals club that would be open to listening to virtually any player on the roster.

    Controllable lefties Scott Alexander and Ryan Buchter were quietly two of the team’s more appealing assets and found themselves shipped out alongside the onerous contracts of Joakim Soria and Brandon Moss. But Danny Duffy and Kelvin Herrera, the Royals’ strongest veteran trade chips, remained with the organization.

    "<strongRotation depth has been an issue for the Royals, in no small part due to the tragic and untimely passing of Yordano Ventura last offseason. As the organization sought to move forward from such a heartbreaking, unforeseeable loss, the contributions of the team’s starters were meager, at best. Royals starters ranked 26th in baseball with just 867 1/3 innings thrown, and their collective 4.89 ERA was 24th among big league teams.

    The trades of both Alexander and Buchter gave the Royals a pair of new Triple-A arms who could surface in the 2018 rotation at some point: Trevor Oaks and Heath Fillmyer. While neither is brimming with ace potential, both posted sub-4.00 ERAs last season (Oaks in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League). Jason Hammel is an easy trade candidate if he’s healthy and even remotely effective this season, while Nate Karns is coming back from thoracic outlet surgery. Oaks and Fillmyer will be among the first line of defense, along with Eric Skoglund, Miguel Almonte and perhaps offseason signee Scott Barlow, whom the Royals liked enough to give a surprising Major League deal.

    With Alexander, Buchter and Soria all set to suit up elsewhere in 2018, the Royals faced some question marks in the ’pen, though the late addition of Grimm on a big league deal gave them an experienced arm. Blaine Boyer added another when he made the team after coming to camp as a non-roster invitee.

    Trades of Soria and Moss (even with some cash included) combined with the departures of Hosmer, Cain, Jason Vargas and Mike Minor to help reduce the payroll heading into the ’18 season. Kansas City was reportedly aiming to trim its bottom-line number to around $110MM, and that would’ve been the case had the Royals not elected to capitalize on an awful market for free agents and score several late-winter bargains.

    Mike Moustakas and Alcides Escobar were presumed to be destined for other teams as the Royals geared up for the aforementioned rebuild, but when their markets stagnated, the Royals provided a (relatively) soft landing place. Jon Jay, coming off a .376 OBP with the Cubs, gave the Royals a shockingly cheap option in center field, although a disappointing 80-game suspension for Jorge Bonifacio could push Jay to a corner.

    Meanwhile, Lucas Duda was scooped up at a reasonable $3.5MM rate to fill in for Hosmer, and while he won’t replace Hosmer’s presence in the clubhouse, the two are more similar from an offensive standpoint than their contracts would suggest. Certainly Hosmer has age, durability and 2018 performance on his side, but the difference over the past two to three seasons isn’t as striking.

    Along those same lines, it’s fairly notable that Kansas City was able to re-sign Moustakas and Escobar, plus add Duda, Jay and Grimm on one-year pacts for roughly the same amount that Hosmer will make on an annual basis on his new eight-year deal in San Diego. The Royals aren’t likely to contend this season, but they found late bargains as well or better than any team in the game.

    Questions Remaining

    Even with Jay on board, the Royals’ outfield is rife with question marks. Jorge Bonifacio’s 80-game PED suspension removed one possible corner option, and their primary left fielder, Alex Gordon, has declined enormously since re-signing with the Royals on a club-record $72MM contract.

    The 2018 season could very well be a make-or-break year for Jorge Soler, who is running out of chances to make good on his once-considerable prospect billing. Similarly, former first-rounder Bubba Starling will eventually need to prove he’s worthy of continuing to occupy a 40-man spot once he returns from injury. Paulo Orlando is on hand as another option in the outfield, though the 32-year-old has never shown an ability to get on base in the big leagues.

    Soler and Starling aren’t the only ones nearing a crossroads. Former No. 5 overall pick and top prospect Kyle Zimmer, whose career has been decimated by injuries, was already designated for assignment and could land with another organization. Infielder Cheslor Cuthbert is out of options and will rotate between the infield corners and DH as he looks to prove that he can hit his way into a long-term role. Hunter Dozier won’t have an immediate chance to contribute but eventually figures to receive an opportunity to prove he can be an answer at first base. If any from the group of Soler, Starling, Dozier and Cuthbert — a group once viewed as hopeful core components — falters in 2018, the Royals could conceivably look elsewhere.

    The pitching staff, too, presents no shortage of puzzles. At present, it’s fair to wonder if the team can even field a remotely competitive rotation. Danny Duffy gives them a quality option atop the rotation, but veterans like Ian Kennedy and Hammel are coming off dismal seasons and are overcompensated. Jake Junis provided glimpses of hope in 2017 and should get a full year to earn a larger role. Beyond that, Eric Skoglund, Heath Fillmyer and Trevor Oaks are all possible options, but the potential certainly exists for a very bleak year among Kansas City starters.

    Nate Karns, at one point, looked to be a lock to make the rotation. However, he opened the season on the DL with elbow issues and is now being viewed as a multi-inning reliever when he returns. The K.C. bullpen has two Rule 5 picks, Burch Smith and Brad Keller, in addition to rookie Tim Hill and three pitchers in need of rebounds: Kelvin Herrera, Justin Grimm and Brandon Maurer. Viewed through that lens, there are perhaps even more questions in the relief corps than there are in the starting mix.

    Beyond the tricky process of determining which young in-house players, if any, will comprise part of the team’s long-term core, the Royals will also need to determine who’ll be on the trading block this summer. Duda, Jay and Escobar could all be on the move as veterans who signed one-year deals in the offseason. Herrera, a free agent next year, is quite likely to be marketed as well. Grimm could find himself on the block, too, if he can bounce back in his new environs. He’s controlled through 2019, which only adds to his appeal in that regard.

    Perhaps the greatest question for the Royals is when the team should deal Duffy to another club. A healthy Duffy figures to be among the most talented and desirable chips on the summer trade market. On the one hand, he’s controlled through 2021, so there’s no urgency to move him and the front office can wait for an enticing offer. On the other hand, he’s not a Chris Sale– or Jose Quintana-esque bargain; Duffy is owed $60MM from 2018-21, which is hardly an unfair price but is also not a contract teeming with surplus value for a player with his lack of innings.

    Deal of Note

    All offseason, the Royals were open about their desire to bring Eric Hosmer back to the organization to serve as a leader and a mentor during what figures to be a lengthy rebuild. There was little, if any, talk about a reunion with Moustakas, who may even have placed some strain on his relationship with the team early in free agency.

    “Moustakas had some expectations that were a little different, places he wanted to play,” GM Dayton Moore said in a February appearance with Soren Petro of 810 AM’s The Program. ” It was clear from the beginning that we weren’t a high priority.” Certainly, any hard feeling were placed aside when the Royals provided Moustakas with a landing spot after he spent four months languishing in free agency, though.

    That the Royals were able to bring Moustakas back to Kansas City for a $6.5MM guarantee just months after he turned down a $17.4MM qualifying offer is nothing short of remarkable. While MLBTR’s five-year projection was, admittedly, aggressive and more bullish than some on our staff cared to be, pundits and industry folk alike were stunned to see his market crumble in such dramatic fashion.

    Moustakas’ flaws were evident all along; he’s an OBP-challenged player with some degree of platoon issues who had a major knee injury in 2016 and diminished defensive ratings in 2017. Perhaps that made it foolish to project a massive contract to begin with, but Moustakas hit the open market in advance of his age-29 season and was fresh off a career-best 38 home runs. He’ll be better off next winter when he cannot receive a second qualifying offer — the new CBA stipulates that a player can only receive one QO in his career — but it seems likely that he’ll enter free agency with lesser expectations and be more amenable to early offers.

    In many ways, Moustakas will now stand out as one of the poster boys for the manner in which increasingly like-minded and analytically-inclined clubs have devalued sluggers with limited on-base skills and questionable defensive value. Home runs are no longer guaranteed to earn a prime-aged player a sizable payday.

    Overview

    Moore professed all offseason that outside of Hosmer — whom the club deemed an exception — the economic component of free agency was going to be a limiting factor to any of the team’s pursuits. To that end, the Royals did well to secure several bargains who could be flipped to strengthen a farm that was heavily depleted over the club’s four-year run at or near the top of the AL Central division.

    It’s somewhat of a surprise that Kansas City didn’t further tear down the roster, though perhaps the offers for players like Herrera (down season in ’17) and Duffy ($60MM remaining on his contract) were underwhelming enough that Moore and his staff felt better served to wait for them to rebuild some value early in 2018.

    Regardless, the Royals figure to focus on paring back payroll and replenishing a diminished prospect pipeline in 2018-19 at the very least, as the ramifications of aggressively depleting their farm system in order to secure consecutive World Series appearances have now manifested in the form of an overpriced big league roster, a thin farm and an ugly long-term payroll outlook. Late bargains for some quality role players aside, the Royals aren’t likely to contend anytime soon, though few Kansas City fans will complain with the 2015 World Series still fresh in their memory.

    How would you grade the Royals’ offseason? (Link to poll for app users)

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    Royals Sign Kyle Lohse To Minor-League Deal https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/royals-sign-kyle-lohse-to-minor-league-deal.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/royals-sign-kyle-lohse-to-minor-league-deal.html#comments Sat, 31 Mar 2018 19:58:10 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=118798 2:58pm: FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets that Lohse stands to make $800K if he makes the club’s MLB roster, with $700K in incentives also available.

    9:04am: The Royals have announced the signing of right-hander Kyle Lohse to a minors deal. Lohse hasn’t pitched at the big-league level since 2016.

    Signing the 39-year-old Lohse even to a minors pact represents something of a desperation move for the pitching-thin Royals, who currently have Eric Skoglund penciled in as their fifth starter and watched Danny Duffy struggle mightily on opening day. While Lohse did make two starts for the Rangers in 2016, he struck out just three batters in 9 1/3 innings and allowed 13 earned runs en route to being designated for assignment in late July. Prior to that, Lohse’s last full season in the majors came with the Brewers in 2015, when he pitched 152 1/3 innings of 5.85 ERA baseball.

    Still, Lohse will seemingly the the club’s second-best reserve option at Triple-A behind Clay Buchholz; those two are the only other starters in the Royals organization beyond the team’s starting five who have any significant MLB experience to speak of. Other starters on the club’s 40-man roster include Heath Fillmyer (acquired in an offseason trade with the Athletics), along with Scott Barlow, Miguel Almonte and Trevor Oaks. Bearing this in mind, there’s a very real chance that Lohse could crack the roster at some point this season.

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    Royals Outright Wily Peralta https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/royals-outright-wily-peralta.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/royals-outright-wily-peralta.html#comments Sat, 31 Mar 2018 19:55:22 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=118846 Right-hander Wily Peralta cleared waivers and has been outrighted from the Royals’ 40-man roster, Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports. He’ll head to Triple-A Omaha.

    As MLBTR’s Steve Adams noted earlier this week, Peralta was signed to a fully-guaranteed MLB deal. As such, the Royals will be on the hook for his entire salary unless he lands elsewhere, in which case his new team will pay him the prorated portion of the league minimum salary. Peralta allowed 14 earned runs across just eight innings during spring training. His 2017 campaign with the Brewers wasn’t much better, as the righty posted a cataclysmic 7.85 ERA across 18 appearances (nine starts) with the Brewers. The 28-year-old saw his walk rate skyrocket to a career-high 5.02 BB/9, while his HR/9 ended the year at a 1.57 figure.

    Poor recent performance aside, Peralta’s designation was likely affected in part by Kansas City’s desire to hold Rule 5 picks Burch Smith and Brad Keller on the roster. The team is in a bit of a rebuilding period, so the upside of keeping these two young players for the long term probably outweighs the value of holding onto the struggling Peralta.

     

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    Royals Designate Kyle Zimmer, Wily Peralta For Assignment https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/royals-designate-kyle-zimmer-wily-peralta-for-assignment.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/royals-designate-kyle-zimmer-wily-peralta-for-assignment.html#comments Thu, 29 Mar 2018 15:39:50 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=118633 The Royals have designated right-handers Wily Peralta and Kyle Zimmer for assignment, tweets Rustin Dodd of The Athletic. MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan adds that right-hander Nate Karns has been placed on the 10-day disabled list, and he’ll be replaced in the rotation by lefty Eric Skoglund for the time being. Relievers Tim Hill, Brian Flynn and Burch Smith have all made the big league roster, per Flanagan.

    Peralta, 28, signed a fully guaranteed one-year deal with the Royals early this offseason, so Kansas City will remain on the hook for that salary unless another team claims the former Brewers hurler. That seems unlikely, particularly when considering that Peralta was hammered for 14 runs on 16 hits and eight walks in eight spring frames (though he did tally a dozen strikeouts as well).

    Zimmer, 26, was the fifth overall pick in the 2012 draft and long rated as one of the game’s better prospects, but injuries have devastated his young career. He’s appeared in just 111 1/3 regular-season innings dating back to the 2014 season and struggled to a 5.40 ERA in 36 2/3 frames with Triple-A Omaha when healthy in 2017.

    As for Karns, he’s headed to the DL with elbow issues after seeing his 2017 campaign cut short by surgery to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome. While the Royals aren’t giving up on him as a contributor, it seems they’re shutting the door on Karns as a starter for the time being. Flanagan tweets that manager Ned Yost said Karns will work in relief when he returns to the roster, ideally in a two- to three-inning role to provide some length to the relief corps.

    That, of course, will open up a long-term spot in the K.C. rotation, though it remains unclear as of yet who will seize that opportunity in the long run. Skoglund will have the first crack, though the 25-year-old struggled in his first look in the Majors last year.

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    Royals Will Announce Opening Day Roster Thursday https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/brian-dozier-extension-talks-dead-twins-rumors.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/brian-dozier-extension-talks-dead-twins-rumors.html#comments Thu, 29 Mar 2018 02:28:39 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=118589 Extension talks between the Twins and Brian Dozier are “dead,” reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, who notes that the slugging second baseman has no intention of discussing a long-term deal during the season and will hit the open market next offseason (Twitter link). That much has looked apparent for much of the spring, as Dozier has reportedly been disheartened by Minnesota’s lack of engagement in extension negotiations despite a vocal desire on his behalf to remain in the Twin Cities for the long haul. A lack of an extension, of course, doesn’t mean Dozier’s days in Minnesota are numbered; he’ll assuredly receive a qualifying offer if he has a characteristically strong season in 2018, and the Twins will likely keep up with his market in free agency next winter. It seems probable that Dozier will remain with the Twins for the bulk of the season, as the AL Central features three rebuilding clubs — the Royals, Tigers and White Sox — and looks to be largely a two-horse race between Cleveland and Minnesota even before the season begins in earnest.

    • With Salvador Perez sidelined for four to six weeks due to an MCL tear, Cam Gallagher will pair with veteran Drew Butera to comprise the Royals’ primary catching tandem, writes MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan. But the Royals won’t announce their Opening Day roster until tomorrow morning as they make the final deliberations regarding their bullpen. Non-roster invitee Blaine Boyer looks to have a spot locked up behind Kelvin Herrera, Brandon Maurer, Justin Grimm and Rule 5 pick Brad Keller, per Flanagan, who also notes that Ryan Goins will likely make the team as a utility infielder. With Goins and Boyer both in camp as non-roster players, the Royals will need to clear at least a pair of 40-man roster spots, though further moves could certainly be made.
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    Salvador Perez To Miss 4-6 Weeks With MCL Tear https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/salvador-perez-to-miss-4-6-weeks-with-mcl-tear.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/salvador-perez-to-miss-4-6-weeks-with-mcl-tear.html#comments Wed, 28 Mar 2018 22:05:44 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=118552 Royals catcher Salvador Perez suffered a Grade 2 MCL tear in his left knee and will miss the first four to six weeks of the season, Rustin Dodd of The Athletic reports. The injury occurred when Perez slipped while carrying luggage on Tuesday, per Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com. He’s unlikely to require surgery, manager Ned Yost told Flanagan and other reporters.

    Perez’s accident may well lead to a career low in games played this season for the 27-year-old, who has been eminently durable throughout his Kansas City tenure. Since 2013, his first full season, Perez has appeared in no fewer than 129 games in any regular-season campaign. He logged that total last year during a season in which he hit .268/.297/.495 (103 wRC+) with a personal-best 27 home runs across 499 plate appearances. On the defensive side, Perez threw out a league-average 27 percent of would-be base stealers – a significant decline from the 48 percent he caught in 2016 – and ranked as one of Baseball Prospectus’ worst pitch framers.

    Statistics aside, Perez is arguably the heart and soul of the Royals, which brings value that’s impossible to quantify. He and the re-signed Mike Moustakas are the leaders of a position player group that said goodbye to Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain in free agency. Kansas City will have to make do without Perez for the first several weeks of the season, though, and that should lead to a Drew ButeraCam Gallagher duo behind the plate (depth chart).

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    Blaine Boyer Likely To Make Royals' Roster https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-roster-decisions-sunday.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-roster-decisions-sunday.html#comments Sun, 25 Mar 2018 23:51:50 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=118174
  • It “seems likely” that veteran righty Blaine Boyer will make the Royals roster, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan tweets.  Boyer signed a minor league deal with K.C. in February in the wake of a 2017 that saw him post a 4.35 ERA, 2.36 K/BB rate and 7.2 K/9 over 41 1/3 innings out of the Red Sox bullpen.  In making the Royals’ Major League roster, Flanagan reports that Boyer will earn $1MM in salary, plus another $250K available in incentives.
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    Royals Release Michael Saunders, Ricky Nolasco https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/royals-release-michael-saunders-ricky-nolasco.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/royals-release-michael-saunders-ricky-nolasco.html#comments Sat, 24 Mar 2018 16:42:49 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117973 Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com tweets that the Royals have elected to release outfielder Michael Saunders and right-hander Ricky Nolasco from their respective minor-league contracts.

    The Royals will become the second team to release the 31-year-old Saunders this offseason, as the Pirates did so earlier in the winter after acquiring Corey Dickerson from the Rays. Saunders hit just .202/.256/.344 last season across 234 plate appearances between the Phillies and Blue Jays. He was in camp competing with some other non-roster invitees a chance to play some outfield for the Royals, but even a .356 on-base percentage during spring training apparently wasn’t enough wipe injury and production concerns from the minds of the club’s front office.

    As for Nolasco, he allowed eight earned runs in just 3 2/3 innings this spring, and has long been an average starter at best. Though he’s managed to throw at least 180 innings in each of the past two seasons (which would seem to present some appeal to a rebuilding Royals club), he sports a 4.66 ERA during that span with just 6.82 strikeouts per nine. Entering his age-35 season, Kansas City evidently didn’t see enough upside to pay Nolasco the $1.5MM he was promised if he made the major league roster.

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    Adalberto Mondesi Dealing With Shoulder Impingement https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/central-notes-indians-cards-pirates-royals.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/central-notes-indians-cards-pirates-royals.html#comments Thu, 22 Mar 2018 01:42:07 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117677
  • Royals middle infielder Adalberto Mondesi is dealing with a right shoulder impingement, and he could begin the year in extended spring training as a result, Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports. Mondesi appeared to be the Royals’ likely Opening Day starter at shortstop a couple months back, but that was before they re-signed Alcides Escobar in late January. Thanks to both Escobar’s presence and Mondesi’s injury, the 22-year-old certainly won’t be a factor in KC at the start of the season.
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    Blue Jays Acquire Sam Gaviglio, Designate Matt Dermody https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/blue-jays-acquire-sam-gaviglio-from-royals.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/blue-jays-acquire-sam-gaviglio-from-royals.html#comments Wed, 21 Mar 2018 23:43:10 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117666 The Blue Jays have acquired right-hander Sam Gaviglio from the Royals for cash considerations or a player to be named later, according to an announcement from Toronto. To make room for Gaviglio, the Blue Jays designated left-hander Matt Dermody for assignment, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet tweets.

    The 27-year-old Gaviglio lost his spot on the Royals last weekend, when they designated him to make room for newly signed reliever Justin Grimm. Gaviglio came to the Royals via waivers from the Mariners last September and closed the year by throwing 12 innings of four-run ball with KC. Between the two teams, Gaviglio racked up 74 1/3 innings across 16 appearances (13 starts) in 2017 – his rookie year – and posted a 4.36 ERA/5.81 FIP with 5.93 K/9, 3.15 BB/9 and a 49.4 percent groundball rate. With two options remaining, he figures to begin his Blue Jays tenure by serving as minor league depth.

    Dermody, also 27, has been a member of the Toronto organization since it used a 28th-round pick on him in 2013. He debuted in the majors two seasons ago, throwing three innings, and is coming off a 22 1/3-frame campaign. The results haven’t been great for Dermody, who has logged a 5.33 ERA/6.12 FIP despite playable strikeout and walk rates (7.11 K/9, 1.78 BB/9). A low grounder rate (37.3 percent) and a propensity for giving up home runs (2.49 per nine) have hurt his cause in the majors, though he has been considerably better at preventing runs at the Triple-A level (3.34 ERA, 6.8 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 59 1/3 innings).

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    Royals Agree To Terms With Clay Buchholz https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/royals-agree-to-terms-with-clay-buchholz.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/royals-agree-to-terms-with-clay-buchholz.html#comments Mon, 19 Mar 2018 21:36:20 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117436 The Royals have agreed to a minor-league deal with righty Clay Buchholz, a report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today indicates (Twitter links). If the deal is finalized, Buchholz can earn at a $1.5MM rate in the majors.

    Buchholz can also reach up to $250K in incentives. He’d earn $25K apiece for making his tenth through 19th starts, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets. The contract also includes an opt-out opportunity on May 1st.

    Kansas City seems like a good spot for the veteran hurler to attempt a comeback. After all, the team’s rotation is not exactly overflowing with depth and the Royals have good cause to seek some low-risk upside after adding a few veterans on one-year deals.

    [RELATED: Royals Depth Chart]

    Buchholz, 33, missed virtually all of the 2017 season with a partially torn flexor pronator mass. The Phillies had acquired him from the Red Sox and assumed his $13.5MM salary. (Boston had picked up its club option over Buchholz in the final year of control under the extension the sides agreed to back in 2011.)

    It’s tough to say what the Royals will get out of Buchholz, who had plenty of ups and downs even before his injury. He compiled 113 1/3 innings of 3.26 ERA ball in 2015, then struggled for much of the ensuing season while showing declines in strikeouts (6.0 K/9) and groundball induction (41.2% groundball rate). Yet Buchholz also finished the 2016 season on a tear, running up 44 frames of 2.86 ERA ball to close out the year.

    First, though, the veteran starter will need to earn his way back to the majors. Presumably, he won’t be a candidate for the Opening Day roster, given that he has missed almost all of camp. But Buchholz could present an option if and when a rotation need arises.

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    Wade Davis Helped Lead Justin Grimm To KC https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/quick-hits-brewers-yankees-red-sox-royals.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/quick-hits-brewers-yankees-red-sox-royals.html#comments Sun, 18 Mar 2018 21:57:51 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117317
  • Before reliever Justin Grimm signed with the Royals on Sunday, he consulted with his friend, former Cubs teammate and ex-KC closer Wade Davis, per Maria Torres of the Kansas City Star. Davis, a Royal from 2013-16 (and a World Series champion in ’15), offered glowing reviews for the franchise and the city, which helped the Royals reel in Grimm. “He had really nice things to say about the city of Kansas City, the organization, the training staff, the coaches, from the top down,” Grimm said. “That’s one guy that I look up to … It definitely swayed my decision.”
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    Royals Sign Justin Grimm, Designate Sam Gaviglio https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/royals-sign-justin-grimm-designate-sam-gaviglio.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/royals-sign-justin-grimm-designate-sam-gaviglio.html#comments Sun, 18 Mar 2018 16:52:09 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117293 12:52pm: Grimm’s deal comes with a $1.25MM salary and up to $300K in performance bonuses, Rustin Dodd of The Athletic tweets. Those bonuses start at 30 games and max out at 55, per Jon Heyman of FanRag.

    12:25pm: The Royals have signed right-handed reliever Justin Grimm to a one-year, major league contract and designated fellow righty Sam Gaviglio for assignment, Maria Torres of the Kansas City Star reports. Grimm is a client of the Bledsoe Agency.

    It wasn’t a long stay in free agency for Grimm, whom the Cubs released on Thursday. The 29-year-old had been in line to collect a $2.2MM salary, but the Cubs saved most of that money (minus $541K in termination pay) in cutting him. They deemed Grimm expendable in the wake of a rough 2017 that saw him pitch to a 5.53 ERA/5.36 FIP with 9.6 K/9, 4.39 BB/9 and a 43.1 percent groundball rate across 55 1/3 innings. Grimm’s run prevention issues were thanks largely to a 22.2 percent home run-to-fly ball rate, more than twice the mark he logged in Texas and Chicago from 2012-16 (10.5).

    When Grimm was able to limit homers earlier in his career, he was a useful cog with the Cubs, particularly when he recorded a 1.99 ERA with 12.14 K/9 during a 49 2/3-inning 2015 campaign. The Royals surely aren’t expecting that type of production on the heels of his ugly 2017, but last year’s version of Grimm still offered good velocity and an 11.4 percent swinging-strike rate. That mark fell right in line with the overall figure he put up during his four-year Cubs tenure (11.9). He’ll now be part of a Royals bullpen that’s set to feature a couple other established relievers seeking bounce-back years in Kelvin Herrera and Brandon Maurer.

    Gaviglio, 27, joined the Royals on a waiver claim from the Mariners last September. He closed the season by throwing 12 decent innings in Kansas City, where he allowed four earned runs on 13 hits and five walks, with nine strikeouts. Between KC and Seattle last season, his first in the majors, Gaviglio tossed 74 1/3 innings (16 appearances, 13 starts) and registered a 4.36 ERA/5.81 FIP with 5.93 K/9, 3.15 BB/9 and a 49.4 percent grounder rate.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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    Royals Set To Utilize Hunter Dozier At First Base At Triple-A https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-central-notes-jimenez-mejia-dozier-reyes-lynn-reyes.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-central-notes-jimenez-mejia-dozier-reyes-lynn-reyes.html#comments Thu, 15 Mar 2018 03:34:30 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117007
  • At one point, Hunter Dozier of the Royals had that kind of lofty billing. But the eighth overall pick of the 2013 draft has seen his star fade over the years. As MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan writes, the organization now seems to see Dozier mostly as a first baseman, which doesn’t necessarily boost his long-term value outlook as he prepares to open the season at Triple-A. That said, the organization is obviously focused primarily on finding a path for Dozier to contribute to the majors. That won’t happen out of camp, but the 26-year-old remains one of the Royals’ better-regarded prospects. Injuries robbed him of a full 2017 season, though he did impress with a .296/.366/.533 overall slash in the upper minors in the prior campaign.
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    Royals Still Interested In Adding Pitching https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/central-notes-royals-liriano-cobb-brewers.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/central-notes-royals-liriano-cobb-brewers.html#comments Tue, 13 Mar 2018 00:32:51 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116867 The Royals would still like to add help in either the rotation or the bullpen, tweets USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, but their payroll is elevated to the point where they have very little room for further additions. As such, a reunion with still-lingering free agent Greg Holland seems “extremely remote,” Nightengale adds. Over the past couple of weeks, the Royals have signed Lucas Duda ($3.5MM), Jon Jay ($3MM) and Mike Moustakas ($6.5MM) in a late trio of additions, pushing their payroll up into the $122MM range.

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    Ned Yost: Royals Could Try Mike Moustakas At First This Spring https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/central-notes-pham-cards-tigers-royals-moose-reds-senzel.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/central-notes-pham-cards-tigers-royals-moose-reds-senzel.html#comments Sun, 11 Mar 2018 16:48:17 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116727
  • Royals manager Ned Yost told reporters Sunday that he’s considering giving third baseman Mike Moustakas some looks at first base this spring, though he hasn’t talked to the player about it yet (Twitter links via Rustin Dodd of The Athletic and Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com). If Moustakas actually does see action at first during the season, it could open up playing time for third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert, Dodd points out. The re-signing of Moustakas figures to lead to a smaller-than-expected role for Cuthbert, though Yost said this week (via Dodd) that he’d like for Cuthbert to rack up at least 400 at-bats this season. Cuthbert encouraged as a rookie back in 2016, when he amassed 510 trips to the plate and hit .274/.318/.413, before experiencing a massive drop in PAs (153) and production (.231/.275/.322) last year.
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    Royals Notes: Moose, Duffy https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/central-notes-moose-duffy-royals-twins-lynn-brewers-reds.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/central-notes-moose-duffy-royals-twins-lynn-brewers-reds.html#comments Sun, 11 Mar 2018 01:00:48 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116672 Before he re-signed with the Royals on Thursday, third baseman Mike Moustakas did not receive any other offers during his lengthy stay on the free agent market, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. The Angels reportedly offered Moustakas a three-year, $45MM contract, but that’s not the case, according to Buster Olney of ESPN (Twitter link). It was an especially difficult trip to free agency for the 29-year-old Moustakas, who will make $5.5MM – $3.2MM less than last season – despite enjoying one of his best campaigns in 2017. Moustakas discussed his time on the market Saturday, telling Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com and other reporters that it was “frustrating.” Nevertheless, “it feels great” to be back with the Royals, he said.

    • There has been “brisk” trade interest in left-hander Danny Duffy, a Royals official tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Cafardo expects interest in Duffy to increase, though he writes that Kansas City wants “major prospects” back for the 29-year-old. That’s not surprising from Kansas City’s perspective, as Duffy is arguably its best trade chip. Duffy, whom the Royals extended in 2017, is under contract through 2021 at a reasonable total ($60MM), including $14MM in 2018. He tossed 146 1/3 innings of 3.81 ERA/3.46 FIP ball with 8.0 K/9 against 2.52 BB/9 in 2017.
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    Royals’ Jorge Bonifacio Gets 80-Game Suspension https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/royals-jorge-bonifacio-gets-80-game-suspension.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/royals-jorge-bonifacio-gets-80-game-suspension.html#comments Sat, 10 Mar 2018 23:27:45 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116674 Major League Baseball has announced an 80-game suspension without pay for Royals outfielder Jorge Bonifacio, Joel Sherman of the New York Post was among those to report (Twitter link). Bonifacio tested positive for Boldenone, a performance-enhancing substance. His ban will open up roster space for third baseman Mike Moustakas, whom the Royals just re-signed.

    In response to Bonifacio’s suspension, Royals general manager Dayton Moore said (via Rustin Dodd of The Athletic): “This obviously [is] a very disappointing situation for the Royals, our fans and Jorge. He is an incredible person who simple made a mistake. Jorge will have our full support as he deals with the consequences.”

    The 24-year-old Bonifacio, formerly a well-regarded prospect, is coming off his first major league season. Across 422 plate appearances, the right-handed hitter slashed .255/.320/.432 with 17 home runs to essentially grade as a league-average offensive performer (99 wRC+). He also saw 808 innings in the outfield, mostly in right (743), and ended up with minus-3 Defensive Runs Saved and a plus-o.3 Ultimate Zone Rating.

    Coming off a respectable rookie campaign, Bonifacio was the front-runner to start in right for the Royals on Opening Day, but the team will now have to make other plans for the first couple months of 2018. The club just signed veteran Jon Jay, who figures to join long-tenured Royal Alex Gordon in occupying starting spots. Other outfield options on the 40-man roster include Jorge Soler, Paulo Orlando, Hunter Dozier, former top prospect Bubba Starling (who’s dealing with an oblique injury) and perhaps second baseman Whit Merrifield, whom the Royals have tried in the grass in recent weeks. Kansas City also has Michael Saunders, Cody Asche and Tyler Collins on hand as experienced big leaguers who are in spring training as non-roster invitees.

    In the event they’re not content with their in-house selections, the Royals could once again venture to free agency, where they’ve been active recently with the signings of Moustakas, Jay and Lucas Duda. There are some proven (albeit flawed) outfield options available via that route, with ex-Royals Melky Cabrera and Brandon Moss, Seth Smith, Jose Bautista, Jayson Werth, Andre Ethier and Matt Holliday among them. Infielder Neil Walker is also unsigned, and although he’s not an outfielder, he’d upgrade the Royals’ position player group in the wake of Bonifacio’s ban. The Royals showed interest in Walker recently.

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    Royals Re-Sign Mike Moustakas https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/royals-to-sign-mike-moustakas.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/royals-to-sign-mike-moustakas.html#comments Sat, 10 Mar 2018 18:04:46 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116540 FRIDAY: Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports tweets that Moustakas has passed his physical and is officially back with Kansas City.

    THURSDAY: The Royals have struck a one-year deal with third baseman Mike Moustakas, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (Twitter links). Jon Heyman and Robert Murray of Fan Rag had reported earlier that the Scott Boras client was nearing a deal to return to Kansas City.

    The contract will guarantee Moustakas just $6.5MM — far shy of expectations heading into the winter. That comes in the way of a $5.5MM salary for the coming season and a $1MM buyout of a $15MM mutual option for the 2019 campaign. Moustakas can also earn up to $2.2MM via incentives for the coming season, per Passan. The bonuses begin at 225 plate appearances and would be maxed out at an achievable 450, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today and Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star (Twitter links).

    Clearly, Moustakas expected more when he turned down a $17.4MM qualifying offer from the Royals at the outset of the offseason. And for good reason: the 29-year-old was viewed by many as one of the best players on the open market. Indeed, MLBTR predicted the 29-year-old would secure an $85MM guarantee over a five-year term.

    As things turned out, the market just never developed for Moustakas. Potential landing spots dried up throughout the winter as organizations signed other players, found cheaper alternatives, or decided largely not to add to their MLB rosters.

    Meanwhile, the Royals spent much of their own offseason trimming costs and waiting to see if they could coax back Moustakas’s long-time corner infield mate, Eric Hosmer. That pursuit ended without a deal, seemingly leaving the Royals positioned to embark upon a full-blown rebuild.

    Bucking the leaguewide trend, though, Kansas City has elected to dedicate some cash to put a quality product on the field in 2018. It may not be enough to make for a clear-cut contender, but the Royals have certainly added a lot of productivity in signing Lucas Duda, Jon Jay, and now Moustakas in short succession.

    Better still, the team has improved its 2018 outlook quite a bit without tying its hands for the future. It still seems that a longer-term outlook will define the team’s approach, and it’s certainly possible that some of the new additions will end up being traded at some point in the coming season, but the Royals promise to be competitive for the coming season.

    Signing Moustakas does come with a cost beyond the payroll hit. Since he returned to Kansas City after declining a qualifying offer, the organization will not add a compensatory draft choice that it would have if he had joined Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain in heading elsewhere. The Royals will still add two selections after the conventional first-round of the draft for those departures. As for Moustakas, he’ll re-enter the market next winter (assuming the mutual option is not exercised) without the hindrance of any draft compensation, though he’ll also face stiff competition in an anticipated market full of stars.

    There’s plenty to digest about this signing, needless to say. Most broadly, it’s as clear a sign as any about the market’s valuation of power. As the ball flies out of the yard at record rates around the league, lofty dinger tallies just aren’t paying in free agency.

    It was bad timing, then, for Moustakas, whose power stroke is his chief attribute. He launched a career-high 38 long balls in 2017 and finished with steadily above-average overall offensive production. Despite tepid output earlier in his career, Moustakas has been a .275/.329/.496 hitter over the past three seasons.

    Of course, that’s something of the rosy version of his attributes as a hitter. Moustakas managed only a .314 OBP last year and carries an ugly .305 career mark. While he doesn’t strike out much, he also doesn’t draw many free passes; in 2017, he finished with a career-low 5.7% walk rate. And his 17.8% HR/FB rate from last year sits well above his career average of 10.6%. Any decline in that number could be problematic. Statcast suggests Moustakas was fortunate to fare as well as he did, crediting him with a .331 xwOBA that falls shy of the .355 wOBA he ended up posting.

    Teams certainly may also have been a bit wary of Moustakas’s abilities in the field and on the bases. Fangraphs’ total baserunning statistic marks him as one of the league’s worst baserunners, with -5.4 runs tallied in both 2017 and 2015 — suggesting that his intervening ACL tear wasn’t solely to blame. Defensive metrics panned his glovework, too, with DRS (-8 runs) and UZR (-3.1) both casting Moustakas as a below-average performer despite previously rating him at times as a quality defender at the hot corner.

    In any event, those facts and figures are of no real concern to the Royals, who are intimately familiar with a player they drafted (second overall in 2007) and developed into a productive big leaguer. Whatever qualms they may have about his long-term outlook are nullified in this agreement, anyway, and there’s no denying that Moustakas represents a remarkable bargain at this rate of pay for a single season’s commitment. (Compare to Pablo Sandoval (five years, $95MM) and Chase Headley (four years, $52MM).)

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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    AL Central Notes: Escobar, Morrison, Robert, Merryweather, Mize https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-central-notes-escobar-morrison-robert-merryweather-mize.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-central-notes-escobar-morrison-robert-merryweather-mize.html#comments Sat, 10 Mar 2018 17:00:21 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116625 Alcides Escobar returns to the Royals with a not-so-lofty goal in sight, Rustin Dodd writes in a piece for The Athletic. Kansas City’s long-time shortstop wants to finish the season with an on-base percentage above .300 for the first time since the 2014 season. He says that he’s working on “taking a lot of pitches each at-bat” and trying to avoid swinging at bad pitches, both of which seem like obvious things to work on. Escobar owns a career OBP of just .294, and his .272 figure last year was the second-lowest among qualified MLB hitters (Rougned Odor’s .252 was the lowest, for those keeping track). That .272 mark for “Esky” was the result of drawing just 15 walks, his lowest full-season total ever.

    A roundup of some other news items out of the AL Central…

    • Recent Twins signee Logan Morrison reportedly suffered a right glute strain while running the bases on Wednesday, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com. He was held out of Friday’s game, and is expected to miss today’s matchup as well. However, the injury isn’t considered serious. Minnesota brought the former Tampa Bay first baseman into the fold with a $6.5MM guarantee that includes a vesting option. He hit .246/.353/.516 last season with the Rays while smacking a career-high 38 home runs.
    • The White Sox are dealing with a more significant injury. Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribute tweets that farmhand Luis Robert has a moderate thumb sprain. Daryl Van Schouwen provides further details on the situation with his own tweet, adding that GM Rick Hahn expects the young outfielder to be immobilized in a cast for six weeks, and to be held out of game action for ten. Robert hit a phenomenal .310/.491/.536 in Rookie ball last season; Baseball Prospectus ranks him as the South Siders’ fifth best prospect, and number 55 overall.
    • Continuing with injury news, Indians prospect Julian Merryweather will officially undergo Tommy John surgery after recently being diagnosed with a UCL sprain in his throwing elbow, according to Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. The right-hander was a fifth-round pick by the Tribe during a 2014 draft in which the club also landed Bradley Zimmer, Triston McKenzie and Bobby Bradley. Merryweather had been solid at all levels of the minors before struggling to a 6.58 ERA across 16 starts at Triple-A Columbus last season, though his 3.89 xFIP suggests he dealt with some unfortunate homer/fly ball luck.
    • Auburn right-hander Casey Mize is “the name to watch” for the Tigers as we approach the 2018 June amateur draft, says Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. After skidding to a 68-94 record last season, Detroit owns the number one overall pick in the draft, and as Passan notes, the club loves big college arms. Mize threw a no-hitter last night and was throwing 96 MPH up through the ninth inning. Scouts in attendance say he was throwing a “filthy split” as well.
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    Royals Nearing Deal With Mike Moustakas https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/royals-re-open-dialogue-with-mike-moustakas.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/royals-re-open-dialogue-with-mike-moustakas.html#comments Fri, 09 Mar 2018 01:20:04 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116527 7:47pm: Moustakas and the Royals are “close” to hammering out a reunion, per Heyman and his colleague, Robert Murray (Twitter link).

    7:33pm: The sides are “working toward an agreement,” per MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan (via Twitter). It’s expected to be for a short term, he notes, with the likelihood being that it would cover just a single season.

    7:20pm: The Royals have re-opened talks with free agent Mike Moustakas, according to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag. There’s said to be “some hope” that talks will lead to an agreement, with Heyman adding on Twitter that K.C. has issued an offer.

    There has been little prior indication that Kansas City would be a likely landing spot for its long-time third baseman. Moustakas, who had been with the Royals since they took him with the second overall pick in the 2007 draft, declined a qualifying offer at the end of the 2017 season. Thus far, however, he has yet to find a new home after encountering a market that was not been as welcoming as expected.

    Perhaps the most interesting question is just what kind of contract scenario the sides might be discussing. While Moustakas obviously set out seeking a multi-year arrangement with a hefty guarantee, the Royals are surely uninterested in a massive commitment. Indeed, GM Dayton Moore recently told Rustin Dodd of The Athletic (subscription link) that the organization intends “to be pretty consistent” with not doling out multi-year contracts this winter.

    The Royals, of course, recently struck reasonably-priced, one-year arrangements with Lucas Duda and Jon Jay, signaling that the club is still interested in boosting its on-field product for 2018. But signing Moustakas would also mean losing the ability to recoup a compensatory draft pick were he to sign elsewhere, and it’s at least fair to wonder whether the team would actually be better-suited attempting to secure a player of his talents on a lower-AAV, multi-year pact. Then again, Moustakas himself may prefer to take what he can get for a single season and re-enter the market again next winter, despite the attendant risks.

    At 29 years of age, Moustakas is still youthful enough to be of interest to organizations that aren’t fully committed to competing in the near-term. Of course, he also isn’t particularly youthful and carries a skillset that is no longer commanding top dollar. Moustakas smashed 38 long balls last year, but also managed only a .314 on-base percentage that sits only slightly higher than his marginal .305 career rate. His once-sparkling defensive metrics at third base have also declined of late.

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    Royals Sign Ricky Nolasco To Minor League Deal https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/royals-sign-ricky-nolasco.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/royals-sign-ricky-nolasco.html#comments Thu, 08 Mar 2018 01:55:26 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116454 7:55pm: The Royals announced the signing.

    USA Today’s Bob Nightengale provides a more in-depth breakdown of Nolasco’s incentive structure (Twitter link). The veteran righty would unlock a $25K bonus for making his 10th start of the season, and he’d earn an additional $25K for each start up through his 19th of the year. For a pitcher with Nolasco’s recent durability, that’s a highly attainable set of bonuses, though he’s obviously far from a lock to even make the big league roster.

    5:15pm: The Royals and Nolasco are in agreement on a minor league contract, reports FanRag’s Jon Heyman (Twitter links). He’ll earn a $1.5MM base salary if he makes the Major League roster and has another $250K of incentives available to him. Nolasco’s deal also has a March 24th out clause.

    3:54pm: The two sides are discussing a minor league contract, reports MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan (via Twitter), though he cautions that the deal is not yet complete.

    3:32pm: The Royals are closing in on an agreement with free-agent right-hander Ricky Nolasco, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter). Nolasco, a client of Sosnick, Cobbe & Karon, will provide some depth for a thin group of rotation candidates with the Royals, who recently lost righty Jesse Hahn to the 60-day DL due to a sprained ulnar collateral ligament.

    Last season, the 35-year-old Nolasco wrapped up a four-year, $49MM deal initially signed with the Twins, though he played out the final season of that contract with the Angels after being flipped to them at the 2016 non-waiver trade deadline. Signed to serve as a durable innings eater in the middle of the Twins’ rotation, Nolasco lost much of his first two years of that deal to injury.

    He bounced back to make 65 starts from 2016-17, though the results in that time weren’t what either the Twins or Halos would’ve hoped; over the past two seasons, Nolasco has soaked up 378 2/3 innings between the two clubs but struggled to a 4.66 ERA and averaged 1.4 homers per nine innings pitched.

    To his credit, Nolasco has managed to keep his velocity steady, sitting in the 90-91 mph range into his mid-30s, and he posted a career-best 10.9 percent swinging-strike rate with the Angels in 2017. That said, he was still far too hittable — 205 hits in 181 innings — and yielded a 37.6 percent hard-contact rate that ranked as the fourth-highest among all qualified starters.

    With the Royals, Nolasco will vie for a spot in a rotation that will include Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy and Jason Hammel. Jake Junis and Nate Karns are both candidates for the final two spots, with Junis turning in a solid rookie effort in 2017 and Karns looking for a comeback following surgery to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome. Wily Peralta, Eric Skoglund, Sam Gaviglio and Trevor Oaks are among the other rotation candidates on the 40-man roster.

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    Royals Notes: Hahn, Jay https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-central-notes-lynn-twins-hahn-jay-indians.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-central-notes-lynn-twins-hahn-jay-indians.html#comments Wed, 07 Mar 2018 03:00:21 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116408
  • The UCL sprain that landed Jesse Hahn on the 60-day disabled list may not wind up requiring surgery, reports MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan. Hahn, acquired by the Royals in the trade that sent Brandon Moss and Ryan Buchter to Oakland, felt a “twinge” in his arm during his last Cactus League outing and will be shut down for “several” weeks. Rather, Hahn will be re-evaluated after his shutdown and could then begin a throwing program. Hahn says he’s actually encountered a similar issue in the past but tried to pitch through it for five to six starts and wound up missing significant time. This time around, he raised the issue immediately.
  • Newly signed Royals outfielder Jon Jay spoke with reporters following the announcement of his one-year deal, voicing a willingness to play all over the outfield and, a bit more surprisingly, in the infield as well (link via Maria Torres and Pete Grahoff of the Kansas City Star). “I’m prepared to play all three outfield spots,” said Jay. “And you can sprinkle me in at first base if you need to. For me it’s simple: I’ll be ready to work.” Jay has exactly four innings of professional experience at first base and hasn’t played there since a two-inning appearance with the Cardinals’ Triple-A club back in 2010. With Lucas Duda on board, Jay certainly wouldn’t be viewed as any kind of regular option there, but his willingness to do so is at least of mild interest. Torres and Grahoff note that Jay could log some occasional innings at DH as well to get Jorge Soler and Jorge Bonifacio additional reps in the outfield.
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    Royals Sign Jon Jay, Place Jesse Hahn On 60-Day DL https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/royals-sign-jon-jay.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/royals-sign-jon-jay.html#comments Tue, 06 Mar 2018 23:49:45 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116383 5:49pm: Jay’s incentives kick in with a $100K bonus for reaching 250 plate appearances, tweets Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. From there, he’ll receive an additional $100K bonus for every 25 PAs up through 600. Jay hasn’t reached 600 PAs in a season since 2013, so it’s perhaps unlikely that he’ll earn the full $1.5MM of incentives, but he should be able to unlock a decent share of his bonuses if he remains healthy

    2:33pm: The Royals have signed outfielder Jon Jay to a one-year deal, per a club announcement. It’s a $3MM guarantee with as much as $1.5MM in incentives, per Rustin Dodd of The Athletic (via Twitter).

    Jon Jay | Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    The bonuses are based upon plate appearances and can begin to be earned at Jay’s 250th trip to the dish, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter), who adds that the CAA Sports client is expected to be given a shot at an everyday job. In a corresponding move, the team placed recently acquired righty Jesse Hahn on the 60-day DL due to a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

    [RELATED: Updated Royals Depth Chart]

    In an offseason of change, the Kansas City organization has now acted to fill the shoes left by departing stars Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain. The former will turn his job over to Lucas Duda. And the latter will now be replaced, at least in part, by Jay.

    It seems the Royals have made another interesting value play here. After landing Duda for just a single-season, $3.5MM commitment, the club has added another quality veteran player without constricting future financial flexibility.

    Of course, the club won’t get quite the anticipated productivity that walked away in the form of Hosmer and Cain, as is reflected in the purchase prices. The departing stars, each of whom profile as first-division regulars, commanded a total combined guarantee of $224MM — not a minimal premium over the $6.5MM total that Kansas City has promised to Duda and Jay.

    It’s far from clear that these moves will spur a winning product in 2018, but it’s certainly fascinating to see the Royals making such investments when the organization could instead have embarked upon a more dramatic rebuilding effort. The ensuing signings put something of a different spin on the earlier salary-cutting trades that allowed the club to move some of the obligations owed to Brandon Moss and Joakim Soria.

    Jay, who’ll soon turn 33, is fresh off of another solid season. He has not been as productive of late as he was earlier in his career with the Cardinals, but gave the Cubs 433 plate appearances of .296/.374/.375 hitting in 2017. A quality baserunner who is at least a near-average center fielder, Jay would optimally function as a fourth outfielder at this stage of his career.

    Even if he’s a bit extended as a regular, Jay seems a good bet to perform up to and beyond his new salary. He has traditionally carried minimal platoon splits, so the left-handed hitter ought to be a flexible asset for the Royals to utilize. With plenty of uncertainty in the remaining mix of outfielders, among other areas of the roster, the signing will help stabilize the unit.

    As for Hahn, the injury is the latest in a long line of health troubles for the 28-year-old righty. Acquired from the A’s alongside prospect Heath Fillmyer in exchange for reliever Ryan Buchter and Brandon Moss (who was included more for financial purposes), Hahn entered camp with the hope of vying for a rotation spot or, at least, a bullpen gig with his new organization.

    The former sixth-round pick (Rays, 2010) displayed plenty of promise with a 3.23 ERA, 7.1 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 through his first 170 MLB innings between the Padres and the A’s. However, injuries have hit him hard since that time, and Hahn has struggled to a 5.59 ERA in 116 innings over the past two seasons while battling triceps and forearm injuries. He’s out of minor league options but will be able to work a minor league rehab assignment to get up to speed later this season if he is deemed healthy enough to take the ball once again.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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    Extension Candidate: Whit Merrifield https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/extension-candidate-whit-merrifield.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/extension-candidate-whit-merrifield.html#comments Tue, 06 Mar 2018 16:24:18 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116351 The Royals front office is in an interesting spot as it attempts to engineer a soft landing after multiple seasons of contention from a roster whose core is no longer fully intact. Despite the obvious challenges, GM Dayton Moore says he’s as optimistic as ever about the organization’s outlook.

    Perhaps no single player embodies that hope and this team’s unique approach more than infielder Whit Merrifield, a late-bloomer who quietly became one of the team’s best players. Given their current stance, the Royals shouldn’t be opposed to considering long-term deals with key players. But is Merrifield a worthwhile target?

    As is often the case for teams that push for a World Series in — in this case, successfully — there’s a dent to the future outlook. That frequently shows up in the form of lost prospects, missed opportunities to swap veterans for younger talent, and ongoing commitments to expensive, older veterans. In this case, Alex Gordon and Ian Kennedy stand out as underperforming contracts.

    At the same time, the Kansas City organization does have some valuable deals on the books — namely, the extensions agreed to with lefty Danny Duffy and catcher Salvador Perez. There’s still potential for those agreements to sour, but at present they seem to represent appealing commitments. And they both run through 2021. It’s worth remembering, too, that the club pursued star first baseman Eric Hosmer. Though it’s clear the Royals will be increasingly attentive to drawing down salary commitments, they did not force deals for players such as Duffy, Perez, or even pending free-agent closer Kelvin Herrera this winter. While Kansas City did give up talent to move some salaries (see here and here), those swaps are nothing like the full-throated efforts we’ve seen some other clubs take after a downturn in fortunes.

    Unlike some small-market organizations that find themselves in this general situation, then, the Royals do not appear to be pursuing a strip-down rebuild. The retention (to this point) of Herrera and the signing of Lucas Duda confirm that the club isn’t just punting in the hopes of securing favorable draft position. Trying to remain at least somewhat competitive while undergoing a roster transition comes with quite a different blend of risk and benefit from a “tanking” strategy — which brings us back around to Merrifield, who deserves some consideration as a potential extension target after compiling 3.9 rWAR and 3.1 fWAR in his first full MLB campaign.

    In most cases, perhaps, a player who achieves that kind of value immediately upon reaching the majors would be a clear candidate for a long-term deal. Here, though, there’s no getting around the fact that Merrifield is already 29 years of age — older than Hosmer and just a smidge younger than Mike Moustakas. With just 1.101 years of MLB service to his credit, though, he won’t quality for arbitration until 2020 and can’t reach the open market until 2023, when he’ll be entering his age-34 season.

    Given that they already control him until he’s 33, the Royals need not be in any rush to secure Merrifield for the long haul. At the same time, though, the club ought to have ample leverage, so perhaps we shouldn’t immediately dismiss the merits of exploring a deal. While picking up control over Merrifield’s earliest-possible free agent campaigns might be a nice feather in the cap, the potential value for the team lies mostly in locking in future salaries at an appealing rate while announcing the presence of a new core piece to go with Duffy and Perez.

    Despite his late ascension to the majors, Merrifield showed good promise in a half-season of time in 2016, with decent hitting output along with high-end glovework and baserunning. Though he took a slight step back in the latter two areas on a rate basis last year, at least by the numbers we have to work with, Merrifield also took a step forward with the bat. His low walk rate (4.6% in 2017) means he’ll probably never be an OBP monster, but he made plenty of contact (14.0% strikeout rate), showed a sudden power outburst (19 home runs, .172 isolated slugging), and produced overall at about five percent better than league average. It doesn’t hurt that Merrifield can steal a bag, having recorded 34 swipes in his first full season in the big leagues.

    There’s some risk here, to be sure. Merrifield needs to hit at a high average to maintain a palatable on-base percentage. And he’s no sure thing to keep up the power surge — he never maintained an ISO that high over a full minor-league season — though perhaps Merrifield is one of those players who has benefited from a bouncier baseball. As Eno Sarris of The Athletic recently explained (subscription link), history suggests that Merrifield likely won’t have more than a few more quality seasons before the aging curve catches him.

    In the aggregate, though, there’s good reason to believe that Merrifield will at least continue to profile as an above-average regular for some time. His athleticism and background — he has plenty of professional time at second, third, and the corner outfield, and the team is trying him in center this spring — suggests he could move around the diamond as the team’s needs change, providing value even if he checks back into a reserve role.

    Merrifield may not be a face-of-the-franchise type, but taking an opportunity to lock in value on a player of his ilk is just the kind of move that can pay dividends for an organization that is already thinking about how it will compile a winning roster in the near future. To be sure, it would be a somewhat novel contract to negotiate. While players with non-star profiles and equally thin track records (and service time tallies) have certainly agreed to terms in the past — e.g., Juan Lagares (4 years, $23MM) and pre-breakout Jose Altuve (4 years, $12.5MM) — they were significantly younger. Perhaps the Yan Gomes contract, a six-year, $23MM pact that included two options at the end, would be a closer fit, but even he was just 26 years of age at signing.

    There are certainly some light shades of Ben Zobrist here, though it’s a stretch to draw any strong comparisons. As a quality player who can move around the diamond, Merrifield could be viewed as a much lesser version of the renowned utilityman, who commanded only a $18MM guarantee in an extension with the Rays back in 2010. Zobrist was 28 at the time but was already a Super Two. Of course, that deal was a ridiculous bargain; on the other hand, there’s nothing to suggest Merrifield will ever approach Zobrist in overall value.

    In truth, the Zobrist pact is tough to use as a comp for any purposes because it was so unique. The same might hold for a hypothetical Merrifield extension. My own thought is that Merrifield’s age/service status ought to make him much more amenable to taking a discount on his anticipated future earnings while also leaving the Royals with less incentive to give value for the right to control any prospective free-agent campaigns than they would for a more youthful player. (To be clear, that’s all speculation based on my outside observation of the circumstances.) Perhaps, then, the sides could explore a contract that includes a relatively limited overall guarantee for most or all of Merrifield’s pre-arb and arb-eligible seasons, with a range of possible options scenarios to be considered.

    At what price might this become attractive for the Royals? Merrifield is going to earn just over the league minimum for 2018 and 2019. His salary for the ensuing three campaigns will depend upon what he does in the meantime, of course, but there are some comps that give some idea of what Merrifield could earn if he continues playing at the same general level. Joe Panik just agreed to a $3.45MM first-year arb salary, for instance, while DJ LeMahieu started with $3.0MM and has taken down a total of $16.3MM in his three seasons of arbitration.

    Even if we peg Merrifield’s anticipated earnings through 2022 in the realm of $16MM or so — give or take a few million – that doesn’t mean the Royals should be willing to spend that much on an extension. Pre-committing isn’t necessary unless there’s some benefit to the club, yet the rights to free-agent years won’t have that much value for an older, non-star performer. Perhaps the Royals would promise Merrifield something in the realm of his likely arb earnings if he agrees to very low prices on two option years. Or maybe the team will pursue a discount on the arb seasons if the contract includes an option or two at higher prices (such that they likely won’t be exercised unless Merrifield succeeds beyond expectations, in which case he’d be rewarded). The most interesting scenario, though, may be a deal that only locks the sides in through the first two seasons of arbitration while leaving team options for the third arb year, at a discounted rate, along with one or two would-be free-agent years. That might give the late bloomer the security he needs while affording the team an appropriate blend of protection and expected cost savings.

    To reiterate: there’s no urgency here and likely not a huge amount of upside to be captured for K.C. But if this organization really does intend to remain competitive in the relatively near future while steadily building up a new core, it’ll require a whole lot of incremental moves that add value. Exploring a new deal with Merrifield offers just that sort of potential opportunity, but only in the right circumstances.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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    Minor MLB Transactions: 3/4/2018 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/minor-mlb-transactions-342018.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/minor-mlb-transactions-342018.html#comments Sun, 04 Mar 2018 20:19:44 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116219 Rounding up the latest minor moves from around the baseball world…

    • The Royals have outrighted Billy Burns to Triple-A after the outfielder cleared waivers, the team announced (via Twitter).  Burns was designated for assignment earlier this week but will now return to Kansas City’s big league Spring Training camp.  The 28-year-old finished fifth in AL Rookie Of The Year voting in 2015 after an impressive debut year with the Athletics, but has since hit just .233/.269/.293 over 338 plate appearances over the last two seasons.  Burns appeared in just seven games for the Royals last year, as he spent much of the season with Triple-A Omaha.
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    Royals Notes: Walker, Moore https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-notes-walker-royals-moss-as-rangers.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-notes-walker-royals-moss-as-rangers.html#comments Sun, 04 Mar 2018 02:08:13 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116173 The Royals tried to bring in free agent second baseman Neil Walker on a minor league deal with an invitation to big league camp, but he wasn’t receptive to that, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports. As a member of the Royals, Walker could have pushed for a role at second (they already have Whit Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi as possibilities there, however) or even the corner infield, where the team has lost first baseman Eric Hosmer (though it recently signed a replacement in Lucas Duda) and is likely to see free agent third baseman Mike Moustakas depart. It’s not surprising that Walker’s holding out for a major league pact, though, considering the successful career he has enjoyed with the Pirates, Mets and Brewers. The switch-hitting 32-year-old is coming off his seventh straight season with at least 2.0 fWAR. Despite Walker’s quality resume, he’s one of many accomplished free agents still sitting on the open market as the regular season draws closer, as MLBTR’s Steve Adams pointed out earlier this week.

    • Since winning a World Series in 2015, the Royals have posted back-to-back non-playoff seasons. Now, thanks in part to the losses of Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain and Mike Minor (and Moustakas’ potential exit), it appears they’ll be in for more lean years in the near future. Nevertheless, longtime general manager Dayton Moore explained to Joe Posnanski of MLB.com that he is bullish on the franchise’s direction “As an organization, you should know your players better than anyone else. We believe in our young players,” Moore said. “We have faith in our future. I know this may sound strange, but I have never felt more confident in what we are doing.” While the Royals’ next wave of talent isn’t highly regarded (Baseball America has their farm system 29th out of 30 in its latest organizational rankings), Moore isn’t fazed. “Nobody had [five-time All-Star] Salvador Perez on their Top 100 list,” he noted. “Nobody had Lorenzo Cain on their Top 100 list. Nobody had Greg Holland or Kelvin Herrera on their Top 100 list.”
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    Royals Notes: Morrison, Duda, Dozier https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/al-central-notes-morrison-royals-gonzalez-white-sox.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/al-central-notes-morrison-royals-gonzalez-white-sox.html#comments Thu, 01 Mar 2018 00:17:33 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116020 Newly signed Twins DH Logan Morrison received an offer from his hometown Royals before signing in Minnesota, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The 30-year-old slugger said earlier in the offseason that he’d love to suit up for his hometown club, though that was before Kansas City began selling off pieces and made clear signals of a rebuilding effort. Per Berardino, Morrison’s desire to play for a contending club took priority. Morrison will join the heart of a young Twins lineup on the upswing in hopes of reaching the postseason for the first time in his career, though the questions that permeate the Twins’ rotation still leave Cleveland as a the division favorite.

    • The Royals’ signing of Lucas Duda likely pushes Hunter Dozier to Triple-A, writes Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com. However, GM Dayton Moore was “adamant” that the addition of Duda won’t serve as any type of long-term roadblock for any of the club’s prospects, instead viewing the signing as a means of adding depth and ensuring that young players such as Dozier are MLB-ready when the reach the Majors. “As I said before, we’re very encouraged about our first-base options going forward,” said Moore. “But it puts us in a position where we don’t have to rush the process. We’ve seen players like Whit Merrifield, we’ve seen players like Paulo Orlando, the importance of getting a lot of at-bats at the Minor League level as they mature, and then when they get to the Major League level and they’re much more productive.”
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    Royals Designate Billy Burns, Announce Signing Of Lucas Duda https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/royals-designate-billy-burns-announce-signing-of-lucas-duda.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/royals-designate-billy-burns-announce-signing-of-lucas-duda.html#comments Wed, 28 Feb 2018 16:41:05 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115998 The Royals have designated outfielder Billy Burns, per a club announcement. His roster spot will go to first baseman Lucas Duda, whose signing is now official.

    Burns, 28, has received only limited MLB opportunities since landing in Kansas City in a 2016 trade from the A’s. He had turned in a highly productive 2015 season, with a .294/.334/.392 slash and 26 steals to go with quality glovework in center, but fell off badly in the ensuing campaign.

    Last year, Burns primarily suited up for Triple-A Omaha. Despite an ongoing lack of power, the switch-hitter got on base at a .369 clip by drawing 44 walks against just sixty strikeouts over 413 plate appearances. On the bases, though, Burns was cut down in 11 of his 35 steal attempts.

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    Rangers Acquire International Bonus Money From Royals https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/rangers-acquire-international-bonus-money-from-royals.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/rangers-acquire-international-bonus-money-from-royals.html#comments Wed, 28 Feb 2018 15:48:22 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115991 The Rangers have acquired international bonus pool money in a swap with the Royals, per an announcement from the Texas organization. Righty Domingo Pena is heading to Kansas City in return.

    While the precise value of the spending capacity being exchanged isn’t clear from the announcement, it seems likely to be $250K. That’s how much the Rangers could still add after last week’s similar trade, and is also the baseline increment that funds can be dealt in.

    All indications are that these funds are ticketed for Cuban prospect Julio Pablo Martinez, who is said to be working on a deal with the Rangers that will be finalized once he’s formally eligible to sign. There’s nothing new on that front, though Baseball America’s Ben Badler did recently report that Martinez faces an unusual $100K fine for providing incorrect information to MLB.

    Pena, 19, has played in the Rangers’ system for the past three years. He first came stateside last year and has yet to pitch beyond the Rookie level. In thirty total frames in 2017, Pena pitched to a 2.70 ERA with 10.8 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9.

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    Royals Sign Lucas Duda https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/royals-agree-to-terms-with-lucas-duda.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/royals-agree-to-terms-with-lucas-duda.html#comments Wed, 28 Feb 2018 15:18:28 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115984 The Royals have officially struck a deal with free agent first baseman Lucas Duda, as Robert Murray of Fan Rag first reported (via Twitter). The deal promises the Beverly Hill Sports Council client $3.5MM, per Fan Rag’s Jon Heyman (Twitter links).

    Rather achievable incentives can also boost that salary. Per MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan, Duda will receive $100K upon reaching 300 plate appearances and can take down another $100K with every twenty-five trips to the dish thereafter, topping out at 600 plate appearances and a total potential $1.3MM in additional earnings.

    It seems, then, that the veteran Duda will function as the replacement for the departing Eric Hosmer. The 32-year-old Duda is significantly older, and wasn’t as productive as Hosmer in 2017, but has actually been a better offensive performer over the two players’ respective careers.

    Depending upon how one slices the numbers, it’s possible to paint a more pessimistic or optimistic picture of Duda’s track record and near-future outlook. He struggled through an injury-filled 2016 season and fell off down the stretch last year after a mid-season trade. On the other hand, he hit quite well at the outset of the 2017 campaign and slashed a robust .249/.350/.483 over the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

    Despite a less-than-exciting finish to the season after a mid-2017 deal from the Mets to the Rays, Duda still ended with a well-above-average .217/.322/.496 overall output with thirty home runs. That came in spite of posting only a .238 batting average on balls in play.

    Of course, Duda also reverted to struggling badly against left-handed pitching after having improved in that area in 2015. For his career, Duda carries an 84 wRC+ when hitting without the platoon advantage. Clearly, then, it’d be preferable for K.C. to give him a rest against southpaws.

    Despite the caveats, it’s a bargain rate for a player who has been quite productive at the plate while receiving approximately average grades for his glovework at first. Duda may not be an adequate replacement for Hosmer in the leadership or baserunning departments, but it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see him out-hit the man he’ll replace.

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    Merrifield Getting A Look In Center Field https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/al-central-notes-sano-merrifield-mondesi-napoli.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/al-central-notes-sano-merrifield-mondesi-napoli.html#comments Tue, 27 Feb 2018 23:51:47 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115942
  • Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield got his first exposure to center field in roughly a half decade in yesterday’s Cactus League game, writes MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan. The 29-year-old Merrifield played more than 600 innings of center in his first two years of pro ball but has been primarily playing infield in recent years. However, with Alcides Escobar back in the fold, the Royals will give Merrifield some looks in center field. If Merrifield proves capable in the outfield, he could fill that need while also potentially opening second base for prospect Adalberto Mondesi, who, it should be noted, will now be utilizing his middle name rather than his first name. Mondesi, who previously went by his first name, Raul, recently explained the decision to reporters (including Flanagan), noting that he’d long gone by his middle name before moving to pro ball. “Back home, everyone knows me by that,” said Mondesi, the son of former NL Rookie of the Year and All-Star Raul Mondesi.
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