MLB Trade Rumors » » Kansas City Royals 2017-12-15T19:15:52Z Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Royals Sign Broadway, Asche To Minors Deals]]> 2017-12-15T01:10:04Z 2017-12-15T01:09:46Z
  • The Royals officially announced the minor league signings of both Broadway and third baseman/outfielder Cody Asche via their official Twitter feed.  Asche has a .234/.293/.376 slash line over 1349 career PA from 2013-17, as he has yet to break out after years as a well-regarded prospect in the Phillies’ system.  Asche spent 2017 with the White Sox, where he posted a big .887 OPS over 347 Triple-A plate appearances and also appeared in 19 games with the big league club.
  • The Royals signed right-hander Mike Broadway to a minor league deal with a Spring Training invitation,’s Jerry Crasnick reports (via Twitter).  Originally a fourth-round pick for the Braves in the 2005 draft, Broadway reached the big leagues a decade later, posting a 6.75 ERA over 22 2/3 relief innings for the Giants in 2015-16.  The righty spent last season in the Nationals and Rays farm systems.
  • ]]>
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Orioles Notes: Duffy, Machado, Duquette]]> 2017-12-14T17:20:43Z 2017-12-14T15:02:04Z Perhaps the Orioles’ willingness to trade Manny Machado isn’t a death sentence to their 2018 playoff aspirations. Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports reports that although Baltimore is trying to trade their third baseman by the end of the week, they’re also “strongly pursuing” Royals starter Danny Duffy. It seems they could be looking to use a Machado trade as a means of retooling their major league roster, rather than go for an altogether rebuild. It’s all conjecture at this point, but in any case, the Orioles are in desperate need of good pitching, and although the southpaw Duffy spent some time on the DL last season, he posted quality results while on the mound despite a drop in strikeout rate from previous years. For the 2017 season, Duffy had a 3.81 ERA across 24 games started. Fangraphs estimated his value at 3.4 WAR.

    A couple more items out of Camden Yards…

    • Dan Connolly of speaks at length about the Orioles in a video. At one point, he gives his insight on the dramatic shift in the O’s mindset regarding Manny Machado. “As late as Monday night, I talked to an Orioles official who said it was probably less than zero percent that Manny Machado would be traded before Opening Day,” Connolly says in the video. “And then… bam, everything changed.” Connolly wonders if perhaps the Orioles went into the winter meetings thinking that they had a great chance of improving their starting pitching (he mentions Mike Fiers and Tyler Chatwood as possible targets), but then felt disheartened when they watched their top choices go off the board. Since the Orioles don’t have the budget to play in “the stratosphere” of Jake Arrieta or Yu Darvish, they may have needed a new and bold strategy to get the pitching they’ll require to compete. One incredibly important disclaimer: Connolly admits he’s only speculating. Still, from my perspective, his logic adds up.
    • Speaking of Machado, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette says he’ll consider dealing the prized third baseman even to an AL East division rival (via a piece by Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun). Encina notes that the Yankees have shown interest in acquiring Machado, and I’d add that their farm system has some talented young pitching that could help the Orioles’ rotation. Baltimore isn’t a stranger to intra-divisional trades; as Encina points out, the O’s acquired Tim Beckham from the Rays at this past year’s trade deadline. He also includes quotes wherein Duquette mentions acquiring Andrew Miller from the Red Sox and Richard Bleier from the Yankees. Of course, none of these trades compare in magnitude to a hypothetical Machado swap, but it’s interesting to learn that Duquette is leaving the door wide open to this possibility. “I think you have to look at the entire market if you’re going to accurately assess the market,” he said in a video interview with the Baltimore Sun. “And the entire market would include teams in the American League East that we compete against.”
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Royals Acquire Brad Keller, Burch Smith In Trades With Reds, Mets]]> 2017-12-14T15:07:06Z 2017-12-14T14:40:51Z The Royals announced that they’ve acquired right-handers Brad Keller and Burch Smith in trades with the Reds and Mets following today’s Rule 5 Draft. Kansas City will send a player to be named later or cash to both Cincinnati and New York in each trade. Keller was selected with the No. 5 pick out of the D-backs organization, while Smith was selected out of the Rays’ system.

    Keller spent the entire 22 season in Double-A despite pitching most of the season at the age of 21. He made 26 starts and totaled 130 2/3 frames with a 4.68 ERA, 7.7 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and a 49.6 percent ground-ball rate. He had been considered the No. 12 prospect in the D-backs’ organization by Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of but was unprotected on at last month’s deadline to set 40-man rosters.

    The Rule 5 selection could pave the way back to the Majors for Smith for the first time since 2013. Smith tossed 36 1/3 innings for the Padres as a 23-year-old that year, and though he logged an ugly 6.44 ERA, he also punched out 46 batters in that time.

    Now 27 years of age, Smith has seen two seasons wiped out by Tommy John surgery and other arm troubles. But, he was healthy in 56 1/3 minor league innings as he worked his way back across three minor league levels this year — his first action on a mound since 2014. Smith posted a 2.40 ERA with 8.9 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9 before impressing with 29 strikeouts in 20 1/3 innings in the Arizona Fall League.

    Both pitchers will retain their Rule 5 status with the Royals, meaning neither can be optioned to the minors without first being exposed to waivers and then offered back to their original organizations for $50K. If either lasts the entire season on the Royals’ big league roster (with at least 90 days on the active roster and not on the DL), he’ll become their property without any restrictions in 2019.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Padres “Clear-Cut Favorites” For Eric Hosmer]]> 2017-12-14T17:36:31Z 2017-12-14T13:04:46Z Following two face-to-face meetings, the Padres seem to be the clear-cut favorites to sign free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports. Nightengale also notes that the Red Sox are still “lurking”.

    The Padres have been frequently linked to Hosmer this offseason, but multiple face-to-face meetings could mean that talks have reached a more advanced stage. Indeed, Nightengale’s use of the phrase “clear-cut” seems to imply that teams have at least made someone detailed pitches by now, and that the Padres are far ahead of their competition.

    Hosmer is coming fresh off a career year and is just 28 years of age. He hit .318/.385/.498 with 25 homers in 671 plate appearances. The durable Hosmer played in all 162 games and added a Gold Glove to his list of accomplishments for the 2017 season. Hosmer ranked third among free agents in terms of earning potential on MLBTR’s Top 50 Free Agents With Predictions piece.

    The Royals free agent rejected a qualifying offer, so if the Padres were to sign him, they’d have to give up their third-highest pick in the 2018 draft (in the case of the Padres, who have a pick in Competitive Balance Round A, that’d be a second-round selection). Since Hosmer will almost certainly sign a deal for more than $50MM, the Royals would stand to gain a compensatory draft pick after the first round.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Rangers “Strongly Pursuing” Kelvin Herrera]]> 2017-12-14T18:38:06Z 2017-12-14T09:01:51Z The Rangers are “strongly pursuing” late-inning reliever Kelvin Herrera of the Royals, Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports tweets.

    The Rangers have already been connected to a couple of different potential trade candidates in the past few days, and it’s no secret that their bullpen could use some fortification. Their 2017 relievers as a group ranked among the worst in baseball in a number of key categories (five separate links), and they’re hoping to contend in 2018.

    As for the Royals, recent indications are they are willing to sell off major league assets to rebuild their prospect base and shave payroll. Herrera would be an obvious trade candidate should they choose to go that route. The soon-to-be 28-year-old reliever is under team control for just one more season, and projects to make $8.3MM in his final trip through arbitration.

    Herrera was one-third of a terrifying bullpen trio for Kansas City during their memorable 2014 and 2015 seasons. For most of that time, he served as the seventh-inning setup option behind Wade Davis and Greg Holland. Herrera was bumped up to the eighth inning when Holland got injured near the end of 2015, and became the Royals’ closer following the pre-2017 trade of Wade Davis to the Cubs. He struggled with the long ball in 2017 en route to a career-worst 4.25 ERA, but given his stellar track record, there’s reason to believe he could bounce back and provide the Rangers with some stability at the back end of their bullpen.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Royals Looking To Get Payroll Below $110MM]]> 2017-12-14T05:49:15Z 2017-12-14T05:49:15Z
  • The sharks are circling the aforementioned Royals, who are looking to get their payroll below $110MM, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). As things stand, K.C. will be north of that amount, so clearly the club will need to pare back. GM Dayton Moore discussed the situation on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (Twitter link), saying there’s a need to rebuild the team’s farm while also not giving up on the possibility of retaining top free agents or otherwise remaining competitive.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Pitching Market Chatter: Phils, Yanks, Greinke, Cole, Archer, Duffy, CC, Jays]]> 2017-12-14T00:51:51Z 2017-12-14T00:51:51Z With a pair of relief signings being wrapped up, the Phillies seem to feel good about that aspect of their roster. Per’s Todd Zolecki, via Twitter, the team will turn its gaze to improving the rotation. Both they and the Yankees checked in with the Diamondbacks regarding right-hander Zack Greinke, Robert Murray of FanRag writes. Greinke ending up with either club is unlikely, however, sources informed Murray. With the Rangers also having shown interest in Greinke, we now know at least three teams have inquired about the expensive 34-year-old this offseason.

    Greinke is the latest hurler to land on the radar of the Yankees, who have also eyed Pirates righty Gerrit Cole. Consequently, the Bucs “are gathering names of young, controllable” Yankees they could acquire in a Cole deal, though there’s “nothing close,” Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports (on Twitter). Notably, Brink adds that the Yankees are also “looking at” Rays righty Chris Archer. The 29-year-old has drawn significant interest this winter, but it’s unclear whether the Rays will move him.

    Plenty more pitching rumors…

    • The Royals are giving serious consideration to dealing southpaw Danny Duffy, who’s “extremely popular” on the trade market, Jon Heyman of FanRag tweets. Duffy suggested on Twitter that he doesn’t want to go anywhere, for what it’s worth. “Bury me a Royal,” he declared.
    • As the Blue Jays look for pitching reinforcements, they are giving real consideration to veteran CC Sabathia, as Ben Nicholson-Smith of writes. Though manager John Gibbons suggested his own priority is to add bats, he also said he’d welcome the addition of the veteran Sabathia — who has a lengthy history with the Jays’ current front office leadership stemming from their time in Cleveland together.
    • Teams have given up on trying to acquire Reds closer Raisel Iglesias, Heyman reports on Twitter. The Reds understandably want an enormous haul back for the 27-year-old star, who’s under affordable control for the foreseeable future.
    • The Twins and Rays have chatted about veteran righty Jake Odorizzi, per Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (via Twitter), who adds that Tampa Bay was not interested in Minnesota’s initial offer.
    • Although they’re at the beginning of a full, cost-cutting rebuild, the Marlins aren’t feeling any urgency to deal righty Dan Straily, per Joe Frisaro of (Twitter link). Miami’s de facto ace will play his first of three arbitration-eligible seasons in 2018. He’s projected to earn a $4.6MM salary, which even the Marlins can afford.
    • The Mets are not likely to sign another free agent reliever, at least in the near term, according to GM Sandy Alderson and as’s Anthony DiComo tweets. Instead, after landing Anthony Swarzak, the organization expects to begin looking to fill its other needs.
    • Brewers GM David Stearns discussed his organization’s situation with reporters including’s Adam McCalvy (Twitter links). He said the team was willing to go to two years to get Swarzak, but wasn’t willing to match the dollar amount he ultimately took. The club still has open payroll capacity, which Stearns says he’ll put to good use. “We have spending power this offseason,” he said. “I’m confident we are going to find places to use that effectively.”
    • Before the Astros agreed to a deal with Joe Smith on Wednesday, Brian McTaggart of hinted on Twitter that the team could have interest in free agent righty Hector Rondon. Whether that still stands remains to be seen, but the Astros are already chock-full of righty relievers as it is.
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Rockies, Royals In On Mark Reynolds]]> 2017-12-13T12:15:20Z 2017-12-13T12:15:20Z It seems as though the Rockies are “strong contenders”  to re-sign Mark Reynolds, who played first base for the club in the majority of their 2016-2017 games. The insight comes via a tweet from Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish, who also notes that the Royals are looking at Reynolds as a backup plan in case Gold Glove-winner Eric Hosmer signs elsewhere.

    The 34-year-old Reynolds has been worth about one win above replacement over the course of 1,034 plate appearances with the Rockies. His .274/.354/.471 batting line with the club has earned him a 103 wRC+ mark during that time, while his defense grades out as slightly below average.

    Reynolds has long been known for his all-or-nothing approach at the plate. The right-handed slugger has blasted 281 career home runs, and they go a long way. In fact, his average home run distance was the longest in all of baseball at 419 feet (minimum 15 home runs). However, his whopping 1,806 career strikeouts already rank 18th-most all-time among MLB players. He’s got a 15.6% swinging strike rate for his career; for reference, that’s the number a 2017 league-average hitter would have posted if he faced Cy Young-winner Corey Kluber in every at-bat of the season. Reynolds has toned down the strikeouts a bit in recent years, but he’s still a good bet to whiff around 30% of the time.

    Reynolds, then, would be a stark contrast to the type of player the Royals have generally rostered in recent years: high-contact, low-strikeout players with good baserunning ability. Then again, the Royals may enter a rebuilding phase if they can’t re-sign any of their veteran free agents (including Hosmer), and Reynolds would be among the cheaper first base options on the free agent market. You can see where Reynolds’ skills rank among the top eight free agent first basemen here.

    As for the Rockies, they’ve been linked to Carlos Santana during the winter meetings, but it’s been said that their top priorities are not at first base. As such, it makes sense that they’re a strong contender for the inexpensive Reynolds.


    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[New York Notes: Mets Pen, Harvey, Lowrie, Duffy, Yankees Options]]> 2017-12-12T21:56:44Z 2017-12-12T21:56:44Z New Mets skipper Mickey Callaway indicated in his comments to reporters that he’s disinclined to utilize a traditional closer, as Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets. While Jeurys Familia has thrived in that role at times in the past, it seems the Mets may at least consider dabbling in more of a late-inning matchup approach, though surely the team’s approach will also depend upon its ensuing transactions. GM Sandy Alderson suggested to reporters, including Marc Carig of Newsday (Twitter link), that bullpen usage plans are still open for consideration.

    More from the New York organizations:

    • Meanwhile, recent chatter surrounding Matt Harvey does not seem likely to go anywhere. Alderson indicated (also via Carig, on Twitter) that Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland have recommended the organization retain the former ace. While it’s not clear that anything has changed since the rumors emerged yesterday, that viewpoint seems at least to be informing the Mets’ valuation of a pitcher that has a massive ceiling but who has struggled quite notably of late.
    • While the Mets held at least some conversations with the Athletics regarding second baseman Jed Lowrie, per Puma (via Twitter), the clubs “don’t appear to match up.” That seems to remove at least one possibility from the Mets’ seemingly wide-open search for options up the middle. At this stage, it’s anyone’s guess how the open job will be filled.
    • The Yankees have reached out to the Royals to express interest in lefty Danny Duffy, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports on Twitter. Kansas City seems to be in the early stages of exploring trade scenarios for Duffy and others, but we’ve heard some news trickle out on various possibilities in recent days. The Yanks, meanwhile, have been connected to a variety of names; Sherman also discusses some of the other avenues for building out the Yanks’ rotation.
    • Sherman also looks at the Yankees’ situation from a higher level. Without further salary-shedding maneuvers, he tweets, the team may have something on the order of $20MM to $25MM to work with before reaching luxury tax territory. Given that the organization has possibilities for moving yet more cash off the books, it seems there’s still ample flexibility.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest On Carlos Gonzalez]]> 2017-12-12T20:52:51Z 2017-12-12T20:47:22Z 2:47pm: Other clubs with some level of interest include the Astros, Orioles, and Rockies, per’s Jesse Sanchez (via Twitter). Colorado GM Jeff Bridich has previously indicated a desire to “continue conversations” with CarGo, as Nick Groke of the Denver Post tweeted yesterday, though he did not commit to anything beyond that.

    12:46pm: Though Carlos Gonzalez hasn’t drawn a huge amount of headlines coming off a down season in the final campaign of his seven-year deal with the Rockies, he’s generating a fair bit of interest from clubs looking to take a flyer on the former MVP candidate, tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. Gonzalez is likely to sign a short-term deal to rebuild his value, and Crasnick notes that the A’s, Blue Jays, Rays, Giants and Royals are among the clubs that are “believed” to be keeping tabs on him.

    Gonzalez, 32, struggled to a ghastly .221/.299/.338 slash in the season’s first half before erupting with a .314/.390/.531 slash, 21 doubles and eight homers in the second half. That surge was fueled largely by a mammoth spike in CarGo’s BABIP (.390 following the All-Star break). While that level isn’t sustainable over a full season, the fact that Gonzalez’s hard-contact rate spiked by nearly eight percent from the first half to the second half suggests that there was more than mere good fortune at play in his late rebound.

    Defensively, Gonzalez hasn’t graded out as an elite right fielder by any means in recent years, but he’s been a bit above average per Defensive Runs Saved and a bit below average in the estimation of Ultimate Zone Rating. Statcast rated him one out above average in the outfield this past season.

    Of the teams listed, the A’s are a bit of a surprise, given their desire to add a controllable right-handed-hitting corner bat. However, they do have outfield space to spare, and Gonzalez could be a nice value play for them on a short-term deal. From a hitter’s standpoint, the Coliseum isn’t necessarily a great place to go try to put up big numbers, though Gonzalez is plenty familiar with the setting from his days in Oakland early in his career.

    The Rays are an even more curious fit given their payroll crunch, though if the team sheds a significant amount of salary and looks to rebuild, they could reallocate some resources to a one-year pact for Gonzalez with the intent to flip him at the nonwaiver deadline. It’s a similar story in Kansas City, where they have space in the outfield but are reportedly on the path to a rebuild.

    The Jays have been eyeing left-handed bats and some outfield help, so there’s certainly a reasonable match there. San Francisco, of course, just missed out on Giancarlo Stanton and will be looking to bolster its offense in other manners now. Depending on the price point at which Gonzalez and agent Scott Boras ultimately settle, other teams could well jump into the mix and hope to sign the Gonzalez that hit 65 homers from 2015-16 as opposed to the one that struggled in 2017 and 2014.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Pitching Market Rumblings: Brewers, Rays, Duffy, Nicasio, Arrieta]]> 2017-12-12T17:59:15Z 2017-12-12T17:28:06Z Starting pitching is in the news this morning, with several notable names being discussed. But there are a whole lot of other moving pieces out there. Let’s run down the latest chatter on the pitching market:

    • The Brewers have chatted with the Rays about their potential rotation trade pieces, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (via Twitter), who cautions that there’s no indication to this point that “any traction was made.” It’s not immediately clear which Tampa Bay hurlers have piqued the interest of the Milwaukee front office, though surely they’d have the trade pieces necessary to swing a deal for just about anyone. Chris Archer remains the big name to watch, though we don’t yet know whether he’s truly available. The Brewers could conceivably have interest in other pitchers, too, including veteran Jake Odorizzi, but it’s all speculation at this stage.
    • Meanwhile, the Brewers are said to have interest in righty Jesse Chavez, Haudricourt also tweets. We heard yesterday the veteran swingman was likely to find a new home this week.
    • Veteran closer Fernando Rodney has met with the Rangers and Twins, per’s TR Sullivan (via Twitter) and Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (via Twitter). It’s not clear at this point how serious the interest is, though Rodney might conceivably be an option for either club, both of which have largely unsettled ninth-inning plans.
    • Another interesting possibility on the rotation market is Royals lefty Danny Duffy. He has drawn interest from the Cubs, per Robert Murray of Fan Rag. Indeed, K.C. has been contacted by rivals on Duffy and a few other notably interesting assets,’s Jeffrey Flanagan tweets. It’s entirely unclear at this point what kinds of scenarios might be pondered on Duffy, but the Royals will surely want a significant return for a player they only recently extended. His contract runs through 2021 and promises him $60MM. While a DUI arrest and elbow surgery introduce some uncertainty into the situation, from a pure on-field perspective Duffy remains a valuable asset as he nears his 29th birthday.
    • The Mets are among the organizations with interest in free agent righty Juan Nicasio, according to Tyler Kepner of the New York Times (via Twitter). The 31-year-old pitched quite well throughout 2017, both before and after an odd series of August transactions. He ended the year with a 2.61 ERA over 72 1/3 innings, with 9.0 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9.
    • We’ve heard some possibility that the Nationals could have interest in free agent righty Jake Arrieta, and’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that agent Scott Boras is working to sell that potential fit to the team’s ownership. Then again, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post characterizes the Nationals’ interest as “tepid” in a tweet. The division-rival Phillies are reportedly also a possibility, along with several other teams, as we covered this morning. Given that the Nats have an opening in their rotation, it isn’t at all surprising to hear that Boras is pushing for it to be filled by Arrieta; after all, his connection to the organization’s ownership is quite well-established by this point. Of course, adding yet another high-priced starter would carry some pretty notable risk for the organization, so it stands to reason that the club will explore other possibilities before deciding whether to join the pursuit of the 31-year-old Arrieta. Crasnick also takes a broader look at Arrieta’s still-developing market, including an extensive examination of Boras’s marketing strategy.
    • While there is action at the top of the pitching market, the Blue Jays seem to be taking a patient approach, as Ben Nicholson-Smith of writes. While GM Ross Atkins says there’s a lack of depth in the rotation market, he also has indicated no interest in pushing hard to strike a deal. It seems the organization’s inclination remains to seek value in bolstering the rotation depth.
    • For the Diamondbacks, meanwhile, the team may at least be preparing to consider deals involving some fairly surprising players. Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic runs down the team’s options for trade candidates who might free up some payroll space and enable the team to achieve future value. At the top of the list are center fielder A.J. Pollock and lefty Patrick Corbin. Meanwhile, the D-Backs are certainly still looking to field a competitor in the near term as well. They are one team with some level of interest in reliever Seung-Hwan Oh, according to Murray. Oh was not able to match his compelling MLB debut season in 2017, but still posted 8.2 K/9 against 2.0 BB/9 while carrying a 4.10 ERA over 59 1/3 innings.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Royals Listening To Offers On Herrera, Soria]]> 2017-12-11T20:26:58Z 2017-12-11T20:21:23Z
  • The Royals are willing to consider trade scenarios involving closer Kelvin Herrera, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. Righty Joakim Soria is also available via trade, per a report from’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). That doesn’t rate as much of a surprise given the team’s relatively hefty payroll and questionable chances of contention. Indeed, recent indications are that some sort of rebuilding effort could be in the works. Herrera is coming off of a middling campaign, but also has a history of late-inning success and is projected to earn a relatively palatable $8.3MM in his final season of arb eligibility. Soria, 33, only carried a 3.70 ERA in his 56 frames in 2017, but did post a healthy 10.3 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9. He’s slated to earn $9MM in 2018 and is also promised a $1MM buyout on a 2019 mutual option.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Royals Have Interest In Matt Adams]]> 2017-12-11T17:26:06Z 2017-12-11T17:02:25Z
  • Fresh off of a non-tender by the Braves, first baseman Matt Adams has drawn interest from a few organizations, according to Jerry Crasnick of (via Twitter). Specifically, the Indians, Royals, and Nationals have all reached out to Adams’s representatives. While Cleveland and Kansas City could offer fairly significant roles to the left-handed hitter — who really is best utilized in a platoon capacity — the Nats unsurprisingly would consider him as a frequently used bench piece who might take some of the burden from Ryan Zimmerman. Atlanta was not able to find a taker for Adams before the tender deadline; he had projected to earn $4.6MM via arbitration, so it’d be surprising if he ended up receiving more than that on the open market. For the Indians, it seems, adding a player such as Adams would represent something of a “fallback,” as Crasnick terms it, if the team is unable to strike a new deal with Carlos Santana. MLBTR’s Kyle Downing just analyzed Santana’s free agent case and we have also rounded up the latest market chatter on one of the market’s top bats.
  • Hosmer and Martinez are conceivably also targets for the Red Sox, as are Santana and others. As Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes, the organization has engaged agent Scott Boras on both players; perhaps unsurprisingly, he also suggests that Boras is pitching Boston on signing the pair in a bold move to revamp its lineup. Interestingly, Cafardo also says that Hosmer’s former club, the Royals, once reached an internal assessment that Hosmer could swat forty long balls annually at Fenway. Of course, the notoriously heavy groundball hitter has never launched more than 25 in a given season (that’s a mark he reached in each of the last two campaigns).
  • ]]>
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Quick Hits: Sports Science, Iglesias, Moylan, Rangers]]> 2017-12-11T12:51:12Z 2017-12-11T12:51:12Z Though baseball hasn’t publicly embraced sports science the way it has analytics, the Giants are looking towards that very field as a way to gain an advantage. A fascinating article by Ian MacMahan of The Athletic (subscription required and recommended) provides some insight into the goals of Geoff Head, San Francisco’s newly-promoted assistant director of player development. “Everybody in baseball is tired by August,” Head tells MacMahan. “But if we are a little less fatigued than our opponent, it gives us an advantage.” The field of sports science focuses heavily on factors such as hydration, nutrition, workload and sleep; experts attempt to put together a formula that will keep players performing at their optimal levels as often as possible. According to Dr. Glenn Fleisig, the main difference between sports science and analytics is that sports science focuses on the “physical and medical aspects of a player,” as opposed to gameplay-based statistics. Less than half of all MLB teams currently have a dedicated sports scientist on their staff, and heavier use of sports science data could lead to big improvements by baseball players. As MacMahan puts it, “no one hits a home run sitting in the dugout nursing lead-filled legs and a tight back.”

    • Evan Woodbery of provides some insight into the questions the Tigers face as the winter meetings commence. Most notably, Woodbery reports that there hasn’t been much buzz surrounding shortstop Jose Iglesias, who will become a free agent after the 2018 season. With no open spots on the 40-man roster, Iglesias is one player Detroit could consider moving in order to take advantage of having the first pick in baseball’s Rule 5 Draft this Thursday (As Woodbery points out, Ian Kinsler could also be on the move before then). Though Iglesias hit just .255/.288/.369 across 489 plate appearances last year, his excellent defense boosted his fWAR to 1.6. Because he’s projected to earn just $5.6MM in his final year of arbitration, there would seem to be some surplus value in his contract.
    • Reliever Peter Moylan is generating some interest, specifically from the Royals and Braves (hat tip to Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston). As Drellich notes, Moylan held opposing right-handed hitters to a .161/.244/.236 batting line in 2017 (and may have also provided the Royals with some intangible value thanks to his espresso skills). The 38-year-old Moylan has typically been excellent against righties over the course of his 11-year major league career; he’s posted a 2.22 ERA against them in 280 innings with the Braves, Dodgers and Royals.
    • Even after losing out on Shohei Ohtani, the Rangers may still elect to use a non-traditional rotation, Evan Grant of SportsDay writes. Texas has reportedly kept contact with Yu Darvish, who has pitched in a six-man rotation in Japan and prefers such a setup; that might be one item which could help entice him to return to Arlington. Grant mentions Cole Hamels, who is generally a stickler for routine, as someone who could present a roadblock to such a strategy. However, based on Hamels’ quotes in the piece, he’d be willing to consider it if the modification helped bring about a postseason berth. “I’d love to get to the postseason again and win a World Series. That’s what I want to do here,” said Hamels. “If we can be stronger and healthier, not as worn down, you have the advantage.”
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Latest On Royals' Eric Hosmer Pursuit]]> 2017-12-10T01:20:23Z 2017-12-10T01:20:23Z The Royals are interested in re-signing first baseman Eric Hosmer, but their pursuit of the longtime franchise cornerstone isn’t going particularly well, Jon Heyman of FanRag suggests (Twitter link). Kansas City’s belief is that “there are much bigger deals elsewhere” for Hosmer, according to Heyman, though he points out that the club was similarly pessimistic before it managed to re-up free agent outfielder Alex Gordon two offseasons ago. Gordon landed a four-year, $72MM pact, which stands as the largest deal in Royals history. Hosmer figures to obliterate that total, with MLBTR projecting a six-year, $132MM payday.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Mariners Claim Mike Morin]]> 2017-12-08T21:03:38Z 2017-12-08T20:44:49Z The Mariners have claimed Mike Morin off waivers from the Royals, per a club announcement. He figures to represent yet another depth option for the Seattle staff, so long as he remains in the organization through to Spring Training.

    Morin, a 26-year-old righty, went from the Angels to the Royals by way of the waiver wire late in the 2017 campaign. All told, he stumbled to a 7.20 ERA in twenty MLB innings, though there were a few signals of short-sample misfortune and his 16:5 K/BB ratio was in his usual range.

    Other signals were mixed. Morin averaged a career-low 90.8 mph with his fastball, a few ticks below the levels he had sustained previously, but did maintain an appealing 12.9% swinging-strike rate that was right at his career average. In 39 1/3 Triple-A frames, he carried a 3.20 ERA but only recorded 5.7 K/9.

    All told, it’s not altogether clear what Seattle can expect, but Morin is still plenty young and has had runs of success at the game’s highest level. In his debut season of 2014, especially, Morin carried a 2.90 ERA over 59 innings. He also has a clear history with Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto, who held that post with the Angels when Morin was drafted and developed.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Royals Sign Scott Barlow To MLB Deal]]> 2017-12-07T23:00:26Z 2017-12-07T23:00:26Z The Royals announced today that they have signed righty Scott Barlow to a MLB contract. It’s a split deal that would pay Barlow $650K in the majors and $225K in the minors,’s Jeffrey Flanagan tweets.

    Barlow, who’ll soon turn 25, has yet to reach the majors. He became a minor-league free agent at the end of the season, wrapping up a six-year run in the Dodgers organization that began when he was taken in the sixth round of the 2011 draft.

    It seems the Royals are optimistic that Barlow can contribute at the game’s highest level. He has functioned mostly as a starter in the minors, with mixed results as he has climbed the latter. In 107 1/3 Double-A frames in 2017, Barlow ran up a 2.10 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9. But he was not nearly as good in his 32 1/3 Triple-A innings, coughing up 7.24 earned per nine with 10.0 K/9 and an ugly 6.4 BB/9.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Royals Agree To Deals With Two Former Braves Prospects]]> 2017-12-07T05:05:46Z 2017-12-07T04:59:22Z Dec. 6: The Royals have also agreed to a deal with former Braves prospect Juan Carlos Negret, Sanchez reports (via Twitter). The Cuban-born 18-year-old hit .264/.401/.391 with a pair of homers and 23 steals (in 32 attempts) across 217 plate appearances and 50 games in the Dominican Summer League this past season.

    Dec. 5: The Royals have agreed to sign right-hander Yefri Del Rosario for a $650K signing bonus, reports Jesse Sanchez of (via Twitter). The 18-year-old Rosario had originally signed for a $1MM bonus with Atlanta but was one of the dozen prospects whom commissioner Rob Manfred declared a free agent following the league’s investigation into the Braves’ misdealings on the international prospect front.

    Del Rosario made his professional debut in 2017 when he tossed a combined 37 1/3 innings between the Braves’ Rookie-level affiliates in the Dominican Summer League and the Gulf Coast League. In that time, he posted a 3.62 ERA with a 36-to-14 K/BB ratio. Prior to DelRosario’s signing, Baseball America’s Ben Badler noted that he had already run his fastball up to 94 mph and featured a breaking pitch that at times looked like a plus offering while also noting that there were some concerns that Del Rosario’s mechanics and smaller stature would eventually lead to a future as a reliever. More recently, ESPN’s Keith Law called Del Rosario the “most intriguing” pitcher the Braves lost in the scandal, praising his athleticism and arm speed.

    The Royals are still in the “penalty box” for vastly exceeding their international pool in the 2015-16 signing period, meaning they’re barred from signing any player on the 2017-18 class for more than $300K. However, as pertains to the Braves prospects that were recently dubbed free agents by Manfred, teams can reportedly dip into next year’s signing pool in order to ink them. That, it seems, is the route the Royals are taking here. Notably, today marks the first day that those former Atlanta prospects can officially sign with new organizations. They’re eligible to sign for a new bonus with any team other than the Braves between now and Jan. 15, after which they’ll still be eligible to sign but ineligible to receive an additional bonus.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Free Agent Profile: Mike Moustakas]]> 2017-12-06T03:37:06Z 2017-12-06T02:44:36Z The Moose is loose on the free agent market, as Mike Moustakas looks to convert his big power year into a pricey multi-year contract.


    After playing in only 27 games in 2016 due to a torn right ACL, Moustakas rebounded to earn AL Comeback Player Of The Year honors after batting .272/.314/.521 with 38 homers over 598 plate appearances.  He outhomered every full-time third baseman in baseball last season, and only seven players overall hit more than Moustakas’ 38 dingers.  Between this performance, his breakout 2015 campaign, and even his abbreviated 2016 numbers, Moustakas has been a solidly above-average hitter over his last 1325 PA, creating 18% more (hypothetical) runs than the average hitter since the start of the 2015 season.

    Mike MoustakasMoustakas’ 38 homers set a new Royals single-season record, breaking the surprisingly long-lasting old mark of 36 set by Steve Balboni back in 1985.  Needless to say, Kauffman Stadium isn’t friendly to home run hitters, making Moustakas’ feat all the more impressive.  Since much of his damage came away from Kansas City last year (.284/.326/.582 with 24 homers in 310 away-game plate appearances), it could be argued that Moustakas would be even more dangerous playing his home games in a less-spacious ballpark.

    Prior to 2017, Moustakas had been a solid defender at third base, with the UZR/150 metric providing more consistently positive reviews about his glovework than the Defensive Runs Saved metric.

    Moustakas just turned 29 in September, making him younger than most of the other top free agent batters.  Going by the last few seasons, he’s reaching the open market right in the midst of his hitting prime, making him a safer bet for a long-term deal than older players who may have more overt question marks about possible decline.


    Moustakas’ 55.6% swing rate was topped by only six qualified hitters last season, and Moustakas’ free-swinging ways resulted in both a career-low 5.7% walk rate and his highest strikeout rate (15.7%) since 2013.  To be fair, that strikeout rate is actually more than respectable given how often Moustakas was swinging away, though it doesn’t seem sustainable given his only-okay career contact rates.  While Moustakas was a good hitter in both 2015 and 2017, these are also his only two full seasons of above-average production, so any weak points (like an inflated swing rate) tend to stand out as red flags.

    With just a .305 career OBP and a track record as a subpar baserunner, Moustakas is reliant on his power to prop up his offensive value.  That’s not a bad skill to have in the recent era of big homer totals and a seemingly livelier baseball, though it does make Moustakas potentially susceptible to a drop in production should MLB explore a re-design of the balls.

    As mentioned earlier, Moustakas had been a good defender for much of his career, though he was below-average in both DRS (minus-8) and UZR/150 (-3.6) in 2017.  This is certainly a worry for teams wondering if Moustakas might not be the same after his ACL surgery, though it also isn’t uncommon for players to simply need some time to shake off the rust in the wake of such injuries.  It’s worth noting that the Royals used Moustakas as a designated hitter in 17 games last season in an effort to keep him fresh.

    Because Moustakas rejected the Royals’ qualifying offer, a new team would have to give up at least one draft pick and potentially some international bonus pool money in order to sign the third baseman.  (You can find a full overview of the new QO signing rules here.)


    Moustakas was born in Los Angeles and played his high school ball at local Chatsworth HS before the Royals selected him with the second overall pick of the 2007 draft.  A highly-regarded prospect throughout his minor league career, Moustakas was a key member of the homegrown core of talent that came up together though Kansas City’s farm system and helped deliver the Royals a World Series title in 2015.

    After over a decade with the franchise, Moustakas has naturally created strong bonds with the organization and within the Kansas City community, and is well-regarded as a teammate and clubhouse leader.  Moustakas and wife Stephanie married in 2014 and they welcomed their first daughter in August 2016.


    MLBTR’s Connor Byrne recently made the argument that Todd Frazier, not Moustakas, may be the best third baseman on the market this winter, though since Moustakas is over two and a half years younger, he stands out as the more logical choice for a team looking for a long-term answer at the hot corner.

    Moustakas’ relative youth might also make him attractive to a team that may not be planning to contend in 2018, but wants to lock down third base in preparation for a run in 2019 and beyond.  Teams like the Phillies or Braves could fit this description if they respectively decide against going with Maikel Franco or waiting for prospect Austin Riley, though both teams seem like longshot candidates for Moustakas’ services.  You can similarly squint and see how Moustakas could fit with the Red Sox, Indians, or Mets, though the latter two teams probably won’t have the payroll room and Boston likely wants to give Rafael Devers a longer look at third base before considering him as a first baseman.

    The Giants and Cardinals are both currently tied up pursuing Giancarlo Stanton, though both teams could certainly use Moustakas’ power, with San Francisco in particular having a glaring hole at third base.  A surprise team like the Orioles (if Manny Machado is moved to shortstop) or Twins (if Miguel Sano can’t handle regular third base duties after leg surgery) could also emerge.  The Angels are currently focused on second basemen and plan to use Luis Valbuena in a third base platoon, so a return to his hometown doesn’t seem likely for Moustakas — unless the Halos miss out on Shohei Ohtani and thus change their DH/first base plans.

    A return to Kansas City also can’t be entirely ruled out, as the Royals have some interest in re-signing at least one of Moustakas or Eric Hosmer.  Conversely, the Royals also seem on the brink of a rebuild, so they could be better served in letting that duo (and Lorenzo Cain) leave in free agency and then collecting the draft picks due to them since Moustakas, Hosmer, and Cain all rejected qualifying offers.

    Expected Contract

    MLBTR ranked Moustakas sixth on our list of the offseason’s Top 50 Free Agents, with a predicted contract of five years and $85MM.  That still seems like a reasonable prediction, even if the Stanton/Ohtani chases have been holding up the market for big-ticket free agents and an increased number of front offices are willing to play the waiting game.  Moustakas is represented by Scott Boras, who is no stranger himself to keeping his clients available until an acceptably large contract can be found.  Moustakas looks to be one of the prime beneficiaries once the Stanton and Ohtani markets are resolved, particularly given this winter’s thin third base market.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Royals To Sign Wily Peralta]]> 2017-12-05T22:47:41Z 2017-12-05T21:49:20Z The Royals became the latest team to strike on the pitching market, adding righty Wily Peralta on a one-year deal, as Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star first reported (Twitter links). Peralta will receive a $1.525MM guarantee, $1.5MM of which will go to his 2018 salary. The remaining $25K is allocated to a buyout for a $3MM option for 2019. It’s also possible for Peralta to tack on another $1.25MM per season in performance incentives.

    Peralta was outrighted in early August by the Brewers and then elected free agency at season’s end. That move came on the heels of a miserable 57 1/3-inning run in 2017, over which Peralta surrendered ten home runs and fifty earned runs. His departure brought a close to his six-year MLB run in Milwaukee, over which time he compiled a 4.48 ERA with 6.5 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 with a 51.2% groundball rate.

    The 28-year-old remains a somewhat intriguing bounceback option, though, for a variety of reasons. It has been some time since he was an effective starter, but he did spin 198 2/3 frames of 3.53 ERA ball back in 2014. And Peralta still brings the heat: in 2017, he averaged 96.5 mph with his four-seamer, matching a personal high. An optimist would surely point to Peralta’s meager 59.8% strand rate and lofty .362 BABIP in his most recent season.

    Peralta figures to represent a swingman option for K.C., which GM Dayton Moore acknowledged in commenting on the signing to’s Jeffrey Flanagan (via Twitter). Moore indicates that he likes the idea of seeing how his power arsenal fares in the bullpen, while also noting that the club “will look at him as possible rotation depth as well.”

    While the team’s plans aren’t yet fully clear, indications are that the Royals are heading for a rebuilding period. If that’s the case, it’s not hard to imagine Peralta functioning as a low-cost rotation piece — particularly if the club explores trades for high-priced starters Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, and Jason Hammel. The latter two, certainly, could only be moved if Kansas City is willing to hang onto some of their remaining obligations.

    If, on the other hand, the Royals find themselves in position to bring back free agents Eric Hosmer and/or Mike Moustakas, and decide to hang on to closer Kelvin Herrera, perhaps Peralta could earn his way into the late-inning mix as a setup arm. This move really does not commit the organization in a particular direction, so there’s still quite a bit left to learn about how the Royals’ 2018 roster will shake out.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Royals Likely Headed For Rebuild]]> 2017-12-04T16:35:45Z 2017-12-04T16:34:42Z After a half-decade at or near the top of the AL Central, two appearances in the World Series and one championship, the Royals now look to be going in the opposite direction. As Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas all hit the free-agent market, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic writes (subscription required/recommended) that the Royals “expect to step back for perhaps three seasons” and embark on a rebuilding effort. Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star also penned an excellent column on the Royals’ trajectory over the weekend, reporting that Kansas City appears headed for a “substantial rebuild across the next two or three seasons.”

    Royals GM Dayton Moore suggests to Dodd that the Royals have to at least be open-minded to virtually any trade scenario: “If somebody blows your doors off on something, you always have to look at it.” 

    That, according to Rosenthal, could even include controllable pieces like Whit Merrifield, who broke out with a .288/.324/.460 slash and an AL-leading 34 stolen bases last season. Rosenthal also notes that Kansas City would listen to offers on left-handed reliever Scott Alexander, who notched a 2.48 ERA with 7.7 K/9, 3.7 BB/9 and a ridiculous 73.8 percent ground-ball rate in 69 innings last year. Both players are controlled through the 2022 season and are still two years removed from arbitration eligibility.

    Beyond that pairing, the Royals have a few more obvious trade candidates. Kelvin Herrera and Joakim Soria are both quality right-handed relievers that are just one year from free agency, though neither is signed at a bargain rate. Herrera projects to earn $8.3MM in arbitration, while Soria is still owed $10MM through the end of his contract. Jason Hammel didn’t have a strong first season in Kansas City but ate up 180 innings with quality K/BB numbers and a 4.37 FIP. He’s still owed $11MM through 2o18. Left-hander Danny Duffy, signed for another four years and $60MM, would represent one of the top starting pitching options on the trade market if the Royals field offers on him.

    [Related: Kansas City Royals Offseason Outlook]

    Interestingly, both Dodd and Rosenthal report that even as the Royals embark on a rebuild, they’re still in pursuit of a long-term deal with Hosmer. Per Dodd, team officials “see rebuilding scenarios that include” Hosmer in the fold. He’s still just 28 years of age, so Hosmer could indeed still be in his prime even at the conclusion of a two- or three-year rebuilding cycle, but it nonetheless seems counter-intuitive to sign him to what would almost certainly be a franchise-record contract while also dealing away big league talent.

    Furthermore, re-signing Hosmer would effectively cost the Royals a top pick, as they currently project to receive three compensatory selections after the first round of next year’s draft due to the losses of Hosmer, Moustakas and Cain (assuming each signs for at least a $50MM guarantee, which seems likely). Those picks would not only give the Royals five picks in the top 40 or so selections of the draft — Kansas City also has a pick in Competitive Balance Round A — they’d also significantly bolster the Royals’ league-allotted draft bonus pool. Each of those comp picks for the loss of Hosmer, Moustakas and Cain would add about $2MM (give or take $100K) to the Royals’ draft pool, based on last year’s slot values.

    Of course, it remains to be seen whether Hosmer even has interest in returning to a Royals team that could spend the first two or three years of that contract losing more than it wins. If Hosmer’s market fails to develop, it certainly stands to reason that a return to the only organization he’s ever known could be a nice safety net. But, it’ll likely be difficult to sell Hosmer on staying in Kansas City while simultaneously trading away his longtime teammates for younger, unproven commodities.

    If the Royals do deal away big league talent without acquiring much in the way of reinforcements for the 2018 roster, they’ll join the White Sox and Tigers as rebuilding clubs in the same division. That would seemingly give the Indians and Twins all the more motivation to act aggressively as they seek to bolster their clubs this winter, as few teams ever have the luxury of competing in a division where three of their four primary rivals are largely punting on the season at hand.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Royals Could Face Rebuild Even With Hosmer]]> 2017-12-04T04:03:48Z 2017-12-04T04:03:48Z With Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, and Mike Moustakas all hitting free agency, there has been wide speculation that the Royals could be entering a rebuild phase.  This is the general consensus around the league, Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star writes, even if Hosmer is re-signed.  The club itself is unsure about its contention plans for the immediate future, as the exact level of the rebuild is still in question — “club officials see rebuilding scenarios that include” Hosmer on the roster, Dodd writes.  This would seemingly put K.C. in an awkward decision this winter, as spending nine figures to re-sign Hosmer doesn’t seem to make much sense for a team that already has an eye towards reloading its farm system, though GM Dayton Moore is reportedly not keen on the idea of a full teardown.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 12/2/17]]> 2017-12-04T15:54:58Z 2017-12-02T19:51:00Z We’ll keep track of some recent minor moves here…

    • The Indians have agreed to a new minor league contract with utility player Michael Martinez, Robert Murray of FanRag Sports tweets. Martinez, now 35, has played at or below replacement level for every single season of his seven-year major league career, combining for a total of 2.4 wins below replacement level. Originally a rule 5 draft pick of the Phillies, he is perhaps most famous for being the final out for the Indians in the 2016 World Series. Martinez has accumulated 621 plate appearances for his career and has put up a .194/.243/.261 slash line.
    • The Royals have re-signed Terrance Gore to a minor league contract after non-tendering the outfielder yesterday, according to a tweet from Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star. The 26-year-old’s speed is biggest asset; he’s accrued more stolen bases (21) than plate appearances (14) over the course of his major league career. He was utilized exclusively as a pinch-runner during the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff runs, swiping four key bags in the postseason during those years without ever picking up a bat. Gore has yet to pick up his first major league hit, but he’s still managed 0.2 WAR for his career due to his baserunning skills.
    • Robert Murray of FanRag Sports reports that the Rockies have signed right-hander Chris Jensen to a minor-league pact (Twitter link). Jensen, 27, was originally Colorado’s sixth-round pick in the 2011 draft. He spent three seasons in the lower minors with the Rockies before being shipped to the A’s along with Drew Pomeranz in exchange for Brett Anderson. Jensen made seven starts and 23 relief appearances for the A’s Triple-A affiliate in 2017, and accrued an equal number of strikeouts and earned runs (56) across 84 2/3 innings pitched.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[2017 Non-Tenders]]> 2017-12-02T07:43:50Z 2017-12-02T01:10:38Z The deadline to tender 2018 contracts to players is tonight at 8pm EST. We’ll keep track of the day’s non-tenders in this post (all referenced arbitration projections courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz) …

    • The Giants non-tendered righty Albert Suarez, Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets. Suarez, 28, was not yet eligible for arbitration.
    • Righty Tom Koehler and infielder Ryan Goins are heading to the open market after being non-tendered by the Blue Jays, per a team announcement.
    • The Rays announced that lefty Xavier Cedeno has been non-tendered, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets.
    • The Cubs non-tendered catcher Taylor Davis, per a team announcement. He was not yet eligible for arbitration.
    • Four Rangers players have not been tendered contracts, per a club announcement. Righties Chi Chi Gonzalez, A.J. Griffin, and Nick Martinez have been cut loose along with infielder Hanser Alberto. Griffin ($3.0MM projection) and Martinez ($2.0MM) were both noted as non-tender candidates by MLBTR. The other two players were not yet eligible for arbitration. Gonzalez was a former first-round pick who had struggled of late and underwent Tommy John surgery in July.
    • The Diamondbacks have also non-tendered lefty T.J. McFarland, who had projected at a $1.0MM salary.
    • The Reds non-tendered lefty Kyle Crockett, a pre-arb lefty who was only recently claimed on waivers, per a club announcement.
    • Per a club announcement, the Brewers have non-tendered veteran righty Jared Hughes. He will end up being the only 40-man player not to receive a contract from Milwaukee. Hughes had projected at a $2.2MM arbitration value. The 32-year-old is a master at inducing grounders and has turned in repeatedly excellent results. He also averaged a career-best 93.9 mph on his sinker in 2017.
    • The Mariners have non-tendered lefty Drew Smyly and righty Shae Simmons, per a club announcement. While the former was expected, due to Smyly’s Tommy John surgery, the latter rates as something of a surprise given his cheap $700K projection. Of course, it’s possible the club is not optimistic of his chances of bouncing back from arm troubles.
    • The White Sox will not tender a contract to reliever Jake Petricka, per SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (via Twitter). He had projected to take home $1.1MM in his second trip through the arb process. Also non-tendered, per a club announcement, were righties Zach Putnam and Al Alburquerque as well as infielder Alan Hanson.
    • It seems that righty Bruce Rondon will wind up his tenure with the Tigers, as the organization is set to non-tender him, per Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free-Press (via Twitter). Rondon was long viewed as a potential late-inning arm for the Tigers, but had some notable run-ins with the organization, struggled with control, and never consistently produced at the MLB level. Though he projected to earn just $1.2MM, Rondon will be allowed to find a new organization. He will turn 26 later this month.
    • The Diamondbacks will non-tender righty J.J. Hoover, per SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (via Twitter). Hoover projected at just $1.6MM, but Arizona is watching every penny as it seeks to return to the postseason with a tight payroll situation. The 30-year-old turned in 41 1/3 innings of 3.92 ERA ball in 2017 with 11.8 K/9 but also 5.7 BB/9 on the year.
    • The Royals announced that they have non-tendered outfielder Terrance Gore. Though Gore was not eligible for arbitration, teams occasionally utilize today’s deadline to prune their 40-man rosters. Gore had quite an interesting run with Kansas City, scarcely playing at all during the regular season and then appearing as a speed-and-defense asset in the team’s two storied postseason runs. Now, though the fleet-footed 26-year-old is out of options. With an upper minors OPS that hovers just over .600, Gore just was not going to break camp with the club. It seems reasonable to think there’s a chance he’ll return to the organization on a minors deal, though Gore will also have a shot at exploring the broader market.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Players Avoiding Arbitration: 12/1/17]]> 2017-12-05T00:35:30Z 2017-12-02T01:05:54Z With the deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players set for 8pm tonight, there should be several agreements over the next few hours — particularly among players that were considered to be potential non-tender candidates. Many non-tender candidates will be presented with offers that are lower than what they’d project to earn via arbitration in a “take it or leave it” manner; some will agree to the lesser deal (as Brewers catcher Stephen Vogt did earlier this morning) while others will reject and likely hit the open market.

    Here’s today’s slate of players that have avoided the arb process and locked in at least a partial guarantee for the upcoming season (arbitration contracts are not fully guaranteed, but each of these players will be guaranteed one sixth of the agreed-upon sum unless specifically negotiated otherwise). All projections are via MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz

    • The Padres announced that lefty Robbie Erlin has agreed to a contract for 2018. The 27-year-old missed all of 2017 due to Tommy John surgery and was projected to earn $700K through arbitration. Terms of his deal have not yet been reported.
    • The Braves appear to have agreed to terms with just-claimed righty Chase Whitley, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). Whitley, who was projected to earn $1.0MM in his first season of arb eligibility, is said to be in line for an opportunity to work as a starter. It’s a split deal that would pay Whitley $800K in the majors, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets.
    • The Mariners agreed with Andrew Romine on a $1.05MM contract, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). Romine, a versatile infielder, was claimed off waivers after the end of the 2017 season.
    • Outfielder Abraham Almonte has reached a deal to avoid arbitration with the Indians, per a club announcement. He had featured as a possible non-tender candidate but instead found common ground with the organization. Almonte, 28, slashed just .233/.314/.366 in his 195 trips to the plate in 2017. He had projected to earn a $1.1MM payday in his first season of arbitration eligibility but will take home $825K, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter).
    • The Royals have agreed to terms with righty Mike Morin to avoid arbitration, the club announced. He’ll receive a split contract,’s Jeffrey Flanagan tweets, with a $750K annual earning rate in the majors and $250K in the minors. Morin, who projected at $700K, drew a mention on MLBTR’s non-tender candidates list. Indeed, his contract reflects the middling season that he turned in. Morin allowed 16 earned runs in twenty MLB frames, though he was more effective at Triple-A.
    • Yimi Garcia and the Dodgers have avoided arbitration, per J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group (via Twitter). Garia projected to command only a $700K salary after missing all of 2017 following Tommy John surgery; he’ll end up taking home $630K, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). Now 27, Garcia had established himself as a significant member of the Dodgers’ bullpen in 2015, when he compiled a 3.34 ERA with 10.8 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 over 56 2/3 innings. But injuries limited him in the ensuing season and ultimately culminated in a UCL replacement.
    • Per a club announcement, the Indians have agreed to a contract with righty Dan Otero. Otero will take home $1.3MM, per’s Jordan Bastian (via Twitter). He was projected to command $1.4MM. The 32-year-old Otero has been an unmitigated bargain for Cleveland over the past two years, turning in 130 2/3 total innings of 2.14 ERA pitching despite averaging just 6.5 K/9 in that span. Otero has succeeded with unfailing command (just 19 walks since joining the Indians) and a hefty groundball rate (over 60% in each of the past two seasons).
    • The Angels and righty Blake Wood agreed to a one-year, $1.45MM deal that falls well shy of his $2.2MM projection, as FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman was the first to report (via Twitter). Wood struggled mightily in Cincinnati before being picked up by the Halos late in the year and turning his season around a bit. In 17 innings with the Angels, he posted a 4.76 ERA with a much more promising 22-to-4 K/BB ratio. Heyman notes that he can earn up to $50K worth of incentives as well.
    • The White Sox announced that they’ve signed right-hander Danny Farquhar to a one-year deal worth $1.05MM — a pact that falls shy of his $1.5MM projection. In 49 1/3 innings between the Rays and ChiSox, the 30-year-old logged a 4.20 ERA with 8.2 K/9, 5.1 BB/9 and a 41.7 percent ground-ball rate.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cafardo: Royals Likely To Pursue Jackie Bradley Jr.]]> 2017-11-25T21:55:49Z 2017-11-25T21:55:49Z
  • The Giants, White Sox and Royals “will likely keep inquiring” about Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. throughout the offseason, Cafardo contends. Each of San Francisco, Chicago and Kansas City have pursued Bradley recently, but the Royals already had Lorenzo Cain occupying center when they went after JBJ in 2015. Now, with Cain likely to depart via free agency, the fit between the Royals and the affordable Bradley is obvious. However, it’s fair to wonder whether the Royals have a good enough farm system to put together a deal for Bradley, who’s controllable through 2020 and will make around $5.9MM next season.

  • ]]>
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Quick Hits: Arrieta, Hosmer, Mets]]> 2017-11-25T17:32:39Z 2017-11-25T17:32:39Z Cubs free agent Jake Arrieta figures to offer more “feast-or-famine probability” than any other free agent on the market, Daniel Kramer of posits. Arrieta has exhibited a number of troubling trends since his dominant Cy Young campaign back in 2015. Kramer points out that the right-hander’s rate of hard contact allowed was once among the the lowest in baseball, but has since fallen to the middle of the pack. Arrieta has also lost 3 MPH on his fastball from 2015 to 2017; pitchers in their thirties typically don’t regain that velocity. Kramer digs even deeper, looking at Arrieta’s “topped ball” rate (balls hit directly into the ground), noting that his rate in this category has also dropped. These factors in tandem create a confusing and concerning picture when looking at the value Arrieta could provide over the next couple of years. It’s not all bad; Kramer also notes that the former Cy Young winner hasn’t lost his ability to put batters away on two-strike pitches, and he’s still got an excellent pitch repertoire to go along with a delivery that provides deception. Teams exploring a deal with Arrieta will face an interesting dilemma in trying to project his future performance.

    Other items from around MLB…

    • Dave Cameron of Fangraphs has released his top five free agent bargains, as well as his top five free agent landmines. Royals free agent Eric Hosmer tops the list of players Cameron would avoid at the prices they’re likely to command. He points out that Hosmer’s 2017 was partially driven by his .351 BABIP, which the first baseman is unlikely to repeat, and questions his defensive abilities as well. Interestingly, Cameron points out that Hosmer’s 120 wRC+ over the past three seasons is just two points ahead of Carlos Santana’s mark across that same span, and yet Hosmer is expected to more than double Santana’s earnings in free agency this winter. None of this is to say that Hosmer isn’t a great asset, but many in the industry think he’ll be paid like a potential franchise superstar, and his track record doesn’t necessarily provide a strong case for that level of commitment. Greg Holland, Lance Lynn, Eduardo Nunez and Andrew Cashner round out Cameron’s top five free agent landmines, while Carlos Santana, Lorenzo Cain, Tommy Hunter, Jarrod Dyson and Doug Fister comprise Cameron’s top five bargains. The pieces are full of great analysis and will give readers another interesting set of storylines to track this offseason.
    • Mike Puma of the New York Post wonders whether the Mets would be best served to bring back second baseman Neil Walker, whom the club traded to the Brewers this past August. Though he spent a significant amount of time on the DL for the second straight season, his 2017 home run total (14) homers and OBP (.409) would be a welcome asset to a Mets club with a number of issues to tackle before opening day 2018. Puma also notes that the Mets are exploring some trade options at second base as well. Interestingly, he lists Jason Kipnis as a name he believes to be available, along with more obvious trade candidates in Ian Kinsler and Dee Gordon.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Players Added To The 40-Man Roster]]> 2017-11-21T01:48:28Z 2017-11-21T00:47:42Z As detailed earlier this morning at MLBTR, the deadline for Major League clubs to add players to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from next month’s Rule 5 Draft is tonight. Because of that, there will be literally dozens of moves between now and 8pm ET as teams make final determinations on who to protect and who to risk losing in next month’s Rule 5 draft. This process will lead to smaller-scale trades, waiver claims and DFAs, but for some clubs the only necessary moves will simply be to select the contracts of the prospects they wish to place on the 40-man roster. We’ll track those such moves in this post…

    Click to check in on other teams that have selected players to their 40-man rosters …

    Read more

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Heyman’s Latest: Moore, Cain, Rangers, Vargas/O’s, Rodney/D-Backs]]> 2017-11-17T05:17:25Z 2017-11-17T05:17:25Z In his latest Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag looks into the Royals front office. Owner David Glass is “considering a possible two-year extension” for GM Dayton Moore, writes Heyman, even though Moore has “no leverage” given that he’s already under contract for three more seasons. This all arises after Glass declined to allow the Braves to speak with Moore about changing squads. While Moore has expressed gratitude to ownership, his recent comments were interesting, if difficult to interpret with any precision. All told, it seems there could still be some unresolved matters in the Kansas City front office.

    Let’s look at a few more items from Heyman of particular relevance to the still-developing hot stove season:

    • Top free agent center fielder Lorenzo Cain has drawn some early interest from the Mets and Giants, according to Heyman. As regards the New York organization, this information seems to conflict with recent statements from Mets GM Sandy Alderson — though as ever it’s worth taking things with a grain of salt and acknowledging fluidity this time of year. As for the Giants, we at MLBTR pegged San Francisco as the likeliest landing spot for Cain, though some doubt whether the organization will go over the luxury tax line and sacrifice draft choices to land him. At a minimum, though, the organization would seem to be wise to do some diligence on the possibility.
    • The Rangers have “looked into” free agent righties Lance Lynn and Tyler Chatwood, says Heyman. While it’s not clear just how serious the interest is, the link isn’t surprising. Texas clearly needs arms; indeed, MLBTR guessed they’d land Lynn. While Chatwood doesn’t have nearly the track record of results that Lynn does, he is an intriguing option in his own right and shares some of the characteristics of Andrew Cashner — the former Ranger free agent signee who is himself back on the open market.
    • Another team with a desire to add several starters (and with reputed interest in Chatwood) is the Orioles. The Baltimore front office met with agents for lefty Jason Vargas during the GM Meetings, Heyman reports. The 34-year-old veteran seems to be a good match for the O’s, as we predicted, since the team needs to find so many rotation innings and can’t afford to make major long-term commitments to multiple starters.
    • The Diamondbacks are “open” to bringing back Fernando Rodney, GM Mike Hazen tells Heyman. Arizona is facing a difficult payroll situation but obviously will be looking to maintain and improve upon a Wild Card-winning roster. Though Rodney didn’t dominate last year, he’s still throwing mid-nineties heat and generating quite a few swings and misses — and obviously met with the approval of the D-Backs’ brass in the closer’s role. Beyond improving the pen, the Arizona priority is to improve in the outfield, per the report. That could mean pursuing under-the-radar additions; though Hazen says he’s not ruling out a return for J.D. Martinez, that’d almost certainly require the kind of payroll increase that does not appear to be under consideration.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[All 9 Recipients Reject Qualifying Offer]]> 2017-11-16T22:16:08Z 2017-11-16T22:16:03Z THURSDAY: Officially, all nine players have rejected their qualifying offers and become free agents, the MLBPA has announced (h/t Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, on Twitter).

    MONDAY: All nine of the free agents that received a one-year, $17.4MM qualifying offer will reject that offer in favor of free agency, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports writes. Each of Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Jake Arrieta, Wade Davis, Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb, Greg Holland and Carlos Santana will turn down that one-year opportunity in search of a multi-year pact in free agency.

    In doing so, that group of nine will also subject themselves to draft-pick compensation and position their former clubs to recoup some value in next year’s amateur draft should they sign elsewhere. Last offseason’s new collective bargaining agreement altered the specifics of that compensation, tying the draft picks received and surrendered largely to the luxury tax threshold, revenue sharing and the size of the contract signed by the free agent in question.

    MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes explained which draft picks each of the six teams that issued a qualifying offer would receive, should their free agents sign elsewhere, as well as which picks all 30 teams would be required to surrender if they are to sign a qualified free agent. Prior to that, MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk provided a more comprehensive and in-depth overview of the new QO system, for those that are unfamiliar or would like a refresher on the finer details.

    It’s been reported for quite some time that Kansas City will make a strong effort to retain Hosmer. Heyman added over the weekend that the Royals will also push to keep Moustakas but feel that Cain is almost certain to land elsewhere on the open market. The Rockies are known to have interest in re-upping with Holland on a multi-year deal, and Heyman notes within today’s column that the Rays “understand [Cobb] is out of their reach financially” and will sign elsewhere. He also adds that Davis seems to be likelier than Arrieta to return to Chicago.

    It’s unlikely that there will be any formal announcements just yet. Among the changes to the QO system under the 2017-21 CBA was that QO recipients would have 10 days, rather than seven, to determine whether to accept or reject the offer. The deadline to issue QOs was last Monday, so the recipients still technically have until this coming Thursday to formally declare their intention. But, barring a last-minute freak injury it seems that each of the nine will go the widely expected route and enter free agency in search of the most substantial contracts in their respective careers.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Offseason Outlook: Kansas City Royals]]> 2017-11-16T13:16:05Z 2017-11-15T22:28:37Z MLBTR is publishing Offseason Outlooks for all 30 teams. Click here to read the other entries in this series.

    A lengthy rebuild for the Royals culminated in consecutive World Series appearances and a 2015 championship, but competitive cycles are an ever-present reality for smaller- and mid-market clubs, and the Kansas City organization now faces what will likely be a franchise-altering offseason.

    Guaranteed Contracts

    • Danny Duffy, LHP: $60MM through 2021
    • Ian Kennedy, RHP: $49MM through 2020
    • Alex Gordon, OF: $44MM through 2019 (includes $4MM buyout of 2020 mutual option)
    • Salvador Perez, C: $43.5MM through 2021
    • Jorge Soler, OF/DH: $12MM through 2020 (may opt into arbitration this offseason but is unlikely to do so)
    • Jason Hammel, RHP: $11MM through 2018 (includes $2MM buyout of 2019 mutual option)
    • Joakim Soria, RHP: $10MM through 2018 (includes $1MM buyout of 2019 mutual option)
    • Brandon Moss, 1B/DH: $8.25MM through 2018 (includes $1MM buyout of 2019 mutual option)
    • Drew Butera, C: $2.3MM through 2018

    Arbitration-Eligible Players (service time in parentheses; projections via MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz)

    Other Financial Obligations

    Free Agents

    [Kansas City Royals depth chart | Kansas City Royals payroll outlook]

    A year ago at this time, I noted that the Royals would be facing some tough decisions on their longtime core of Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas, Danny Duffy, Alcides Escobar and Wade Davis. With each of that group set to hit free agency after the 2017 campaign, it was a virtual impossibility that the Royals could retain them all. Kansas City took definitive action with two of the six, locking Duffy up on a franchise-record deal for a pitcher while trading Davis to the Cubs in the hope that former super-prospect Jorge Soler could blossom in a new setting. (Thus far, it has not worked.)

    The other four remained with the club as GM Dayton Moore and his staff eyed one more run at a postseason berth with the core that brought baseball back to life in K.C. The Royals were in possession of a Wild Card spot at the trade deadline and had just watched the former first-place Twins drop six of seven games. Moore acted decisively, operating as a buyer rather than selling off Cain, Hosmer and Moustakas for prospects.

    The GM has drawn his share of flak for that, but he’d almost certainly have been widely criticized for selling while in possession of a playoff spot had he moved his veteran core. That’d send an awful message to fans, and the city would’ve been left wondering what might’ve been when the team plummeted in the standings. That outcome, unfortunately, came to fruition for the Royals in spite of acquiring Melky Cabrera, Trevor Cahill, Ryan Buchter and Brandon Maurer. While Cabrera and Cahill have departed for free agency, both Maurer and Buchter can remain on hand as longer-term pieces in the bullpen.

    In addition to whatever value Maurer and Buchter provide in future seasons, Kansas City will quite likely recoup three picks in the 30 to 35 range of next year’s draft if Hosmer, Cain and Moustakas all sign elsewhere. That will give them one of the largest bonus pools to work with in the amateur draft — a nice consolation prize and a good start on restocking a farm system that was depleted by trades for Johnny Cueto, Ben Zobrist and others over the course of the Royals’ impressive run of success.

    While it can’t be entirely ruled out that the Royals bring back one of their departing stars — they’re reportedly most focused on Hosmer and Moustakas — it’s also difficult to see how they’d fit into a crowded payroll picture. Agent Scott Boras figures to pitch owner David Glass on the importance of both Hosmer and Moustakas not only to the on-field unit but also to the clubhouse and to the fanbase. Whether that argument carries weight with ownership remains to be seen.

    Hosmer is a polarizing free agent due to his inconsistencies at the plate and the disconnect between scouts’ positive valuation of his defense and his substandard defensive metrics. He has at times been one of the better-looking hitters in the American League but has also yet to string together consecutive excellent seasons. He won his fourth Gold Glove this season but also posted one of the worst Defensive Runs Saved totals of any first baseman.

    The Royals are said to love Hosmer, though, and he’s been one of the faces of the franchise as the team has returned to prominence in the AL. It’s possible that ownership ultimately views him as a special exception and fits him into the payroll, though doing so would eat up the majority of the Royals’ resources while only addressing one spot on a roster that is teeming with question marks.

    Recent reports have suggested that the Royals are growing increasingly pessimistic about their chances of retaining any of that trio, though. If it ultimately proves that all three sign elsewhere, it’d open a number of doors for Moore and his staff as they ask themselves whether to take aim at another playoff pursuit in 2018 or to set their sights on a return to contention a couple of years down the line.

    The Royals have little in the way of short-term assets that they could sell off for prospects. Late-inning relievers Kelvin Herrera and Joakim Soria would appeal to contenders, but both are fairly expensive and come with just one year of control. (Soria technically has two, but the second year is a mutual option, which is almost never exercised by both parties.) Brandon Moss and Jason Hammel each struggled in the first season of their respective two-year deals in 2017; Moss surely comes with negative trade value, while the best the Royals may be able to hope with regard to Hammel is that his 180 innings and respectable FIP convince a competitor to take a decent chunk of his salary off their hands.

    If Kansas City deems, then, that a full rebuild is necessary, it’d have to face the tough scenarios of marketing longer-term assets in trades. Left-hander Danny Duffy, who has four years and $60MM remaining on his contract, would be one of the top starting pitchers on the trade market and could fetch multiple quality prospects and/or an MLB-ready young talent. Few teams are aggressively seeking starting catchers, but dangling the remaining four years of Perez’s contract would cause some teams to rethink their catching situations. And late-blooming star Whit Merrifield, controlled all the way through 2022, would be of immediate interest to teams in need of infield upgrades.

    That said, the American League Central isn’t an intimidating division at present, with both the White Sox and Tigers rebuilding. Rather than a full rebuild, it seems likelier that Kansas City could look to operate similarly to the 2016-17 offseason. Herrera and/or Soria could be marketed as a means of acquiring some young talent and shedding payroll while still largely attempting to field a competitive unit. After all, both Duffy and Perez would come with substantial value whether marketed now, next summer or next offseason. With that in mind, the Royals may well look to shorter-term solutions at affordable rates as they wait for Moss, Hammel and albatross deals for Ian Kennedy and Alex Gordon to come off the books.

    In the outfield, the Royals will have little choice but to hope that Gordon can somewhat return to form in the third season of a four-year, $72MM contract that has proven disastrous thus far. Jorge Bonifacio’s .255/.320/.432 output and 17 homers this past season could get him a full season’s worth of at-bats in right field, and the Royals at some point likely feel they need to see what they have in Jorge Soler — be it as a DH or an outfielder. Paulo Orlando and Terrance Gore remain on the 40-man roster, but at this point there’s little reason to believe that either can hit enough to command regular playing time in the Majors. Bubba Starling represents another 40-man option, but he posted a dismal .303 OBP in 80 games at Triple-A last year. Billy Burns gives Kansas City another option for a reserve role.

    All of that is to say, there’s probably room for at least one outfield addition. Cameron Maybin has already been reported as a potential option, and there’s a natural on-paper fit for Jarrod Dyson to return to the Royals as a free agent. If the Royals are willing to spend a bit more, then Carlos Gomez could be brought in to play center field and likely provide more offense than any of the previously mentioned outfield candidates.

    The infield is also rife with options but littered with uncertainty. Merrifield will absolutely hold down a starting spot after hitting .288/.324/.460 with 19 homers and a league-leading 34 steals. The rest of the infield is anyone’s guess. Assistant GM J.J. Picollo recently told’s Jeffrey Flanagan that some combination of Cheslor Cuthbert and Hunter Dozier could man the infield corners in 2018 if neither Hosmer nor Moustakas is retained. Moss will be on hand as a first-base/DH option, unless the Royals can find a taker for his salary (a daunting task in a market with so many left-handed corner bats already available). Young Raul Mondesi Jr. will likely be given the opportunity to prove his mettle at shortstop.

    As is the case in the outfield, though, there’s enough uncertainty here that the Royals could add a veteran without completely blocking the paths of all their young but unproven options. Logan Morrison has already stated that it’d be a “dream come true” to play in front of his family for his hometown Royals. The Royals could once again try to wait out the first-base market as they did last winter, hoping to land a bat at a discount rate, as the supply again looks to outstrip the demand for such players.

    It’s a similar situation at shortstop; as intriguing as Mondesi may be, it’d be hard not to take a look at Zack Cozart if his market remains in the three-year range. At a certain point, he represents a notable value play even if he “blocks” a shortstop option. Furthermore, Merrifield could theoretically be moved to third base or left field if the team wished to get Mondesi or prospect Nicky Lopez a look at second base.

    On the pitching front, the Royals will enter the year with Duffy, Hammel, Kennedy, Jake Junis and Nate Karns penciled into the rotation — at least as things currently stand. Certainly, there’s room for another addition. Junis has yet to log a full big league season, while Karns is returning from thoracic outlet surgery. Duffy, Hammel and Kennedy have all had injuries in recent seasons as well, and no club can expect to navigate a full season with just five starters. Eric Skoglund and Sam Gaviglio are nice depth pieces, but there’s room for the Royals to add either a bounceback candidate or a solid innings eater. Chris Tillman, Clay Buchholz and Brett Anderson are among the rebound candidates available, while Jaime Garcia, Wade Miley, R.A. Dickey and Doug Fister are among the names that could be counted on for some back-of-the-rotation innings.

    The bullpen, too, should give the Royals ample room to make some opportunistic additions later in the offseason. It’d be unwise to jump early and beat the market for a top-tier reliever, but there are always a few arms expected to receive hefty multi-year deals that ultimately settle for more reasonable one- and two-year pacts. It’s next to impossible to accurately forecast which arms will be left out in the cold, so to speak, but the Royals’ in-between status heading into the 2018 season likely affords them the luxury of waiting to find out.

    Kansas City opened the 2017 season with a franchise-record $143MM payroll and brought that number closer to $150MM by the end of the season. With Hosmer, Moustakas and Cain all potentially departing, it’s hard to imagine owner David Glass green-lighting anything beyond that 2017 Opening Day mark. The Royals currently project to have around $129MM on next year’s books, though potential trades of Herrera, Soria, Hammel or Moss would impact that number. Assuming there’s no exception made for one of the big three free agents, then, Kansas City could have somewhere in $10-20MM worth of available funds to add to the 2018 roster (again, contingent on moving at least one veteran’s contract).

    It’s not an enormous amount to play with, but the Royals have made a habit of backloading contracts and effectively utilizing mutual options as an accounting tactic to defer the guaranteed salary on a contract. That strategy could again allow the team to pursue some veterans on two- and three-year commitments this offseason.

    The Royals are highly unlikely to enter the 2018 season as any kind of division favorite. However, the fact that they’re in a division with two all-out rebuilders and have their most appealing trade assets controlled for another four years makes a compelling case for Kansas City to sell short-term assets and make mid-range commitments in an effort to hang around in 2018. If that plan fails to pan out, they’ll still be able to fall back on dealing their most palatable chips down the road and embarking on a more aggressive rebuild.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Blue Jays, Mets Showing Interest In Lorenzo Cain]]> 2017-11-14T22:10:03Z 2017-11-14T22:10:03Z The Blue Jays and Mets have both reached out to the representatives for free-agent center fielder Lorenzo Cain, tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. Crasnick also lists the Rangers, Mariners and Giants as more speculative fits for Cain’s services.

    While both Toronto and New York already have standout defensive center fielders in Kevin Pillar and Juan Lagares, respectively, adding Cain to the outfield mix in either organization could create an elite defensive unit. The Blue Jays have a more pronounced need in the outfield, though young Teoscar Hernandez and Anthony Alford could both work their way into regular roles next year. The Mets would appear to be more set with Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto both in the mix alongside Lagares, but Conforto’s status is something of a question mark following shoulder surgery. Speaking purely speculatively, acquiring Cain could also allow either club to trade from its stock of outfielders.

    Cain, 32 next April, hit .300/.363/.440 with 15 homers and 26 steals in 645 plate appearances with the Royals in 2017. While he’s never turned in a below-average season in the outfield by virtually any defensive metric, this past season was his weakest in that regard. Defensive Runs Saved pegged him at +5 runs in center field, while Ultimate Zone Rating had him at +1.6. Statcast’s new Outs Above Average metric still pegged Cain as one of baseball’s truly elite outfielders; he ranked fifth among all outfielders with a sterling mark of +15.

    Cain will reportedly reject the Royals’ $17.4MM qualifying offer, meaning he’ll cost any club that signs him some resources in next year’s draft. Specifically, the Jays and the Mets would forfeit their second-highest pick and $500K worth of next year’s international signing pool in order to sign Cain, as MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes recently explained. The Rangers would face that same penalty, while the Mariners would only need to forfeit their third-highest selection. Of the teams listed by Crasnick, the Giants would pay the steepest penalty — forfeiting their second- and fifth-highest draft selections as well as $1MM worth of international spending money. San Francisco is “juggling a lot of balls” at present, per Crasnick.

    The Royals, meanwhile, would land a compensatory draft pick after the first round so long as Cain signs a contract worth more than $50MM in total guarantees. That seems exceedingly likely to be the case, wherever he signs. In the off-chance that Cain somehow comes up shy of $50MM, Kansas City’s comp pick would come after Competitive Balance Round B in next year’s draft.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Royals Notes: Hosmer, Moustakas, Moore]]> 2017-11-14T21:01:15Z 2017-11-14T17:25:37Z Royals GM Dayton Moore did not strike a particularly optimistic tone yesterday with regard to the the organization’s major free agents, as Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star reports on Twitter“We’ll see what the market dictates, we’ll stay engaged with our current free agents,” said Moore. “But I’m not sure if it’s at the levels that everyone’s talking about. It may be extra challenging for us.” The Kansas City organization will get a chance to begin figuring out just how much it’ll cost to keep Eric Hosmer or Mike Moustakas when it sits down today with agent Scott Boras, as Jon Heyman of Fan Rag reports.

    • Moore also discussed the fact that he’ll stay with the Royals after owner David Glass declined to allow him to interview with the Braves, as Dodd further writes. “I simply left that in Mr. Glass’s hands,” said Moore. “If he wanted to grant permission, then that would signal to me that he didn’t want me here. If he denied permission, that would tell me he wants me here.” That’s certainly an interesting perspective. Moore did emphasize, too, that he’s happy both to remain in charge of the Royals’ baseball ops and to put the speculation behind him. He is under contract in Kansas City through the 2020 campaign, Dodd further reports, and it seems as if there’s good cause to expect the relationship to continue for the foreseeable future.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Royals Notes: Yost, Front Office, Maybin]]> 2017-11-13T20:50:23Z 2017-11-13T20:50:23Z’s Jeffrey Flanagan spoke to Royals manager Ned Yost following emergency surgery to repair a “shattered” pelvis that he sustained when falling an estimated 20 feet out of a hunting stand nine days ago. Yost, who just returned home from the hospital yesterday and is expected to be confined to a wheelchair for the next two months, tells Flanagan in a lengthy interview that he feels lucky to be alive. “There’s no doubt I would have bled out if I didn’t have my cellphone with me,” says Yost, who was helicoptered to a nearby hospital after his fall.

    Surgeons told Yost after he had awoken that this type of injury comes with a “25 to 30 percent mortality rate” and that the doctors had grown genuinely concerned as they were initially unable to stop his internal bleeding. Thankfully, however, Yost is now hopeful that he can be on his feet again by the time Spring Training begins. It’s an enormous relief to learn that the 63-year-old Yost, who is entering his ninth season as the manager in Kansas City, is seemingly out of danger and on the road back to full health. Best wishes to him on what will hopefully be as quick a recovery as possible, under the circumstances.

    A couple more notes pertaining to the 2015 World Series champions…

    • Royals director of analytics Mike Groopman is leaving the club to take a new role with the Brewers in their international scouting department, reports Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star. Groopman had been with the Royals since joining the team as an intern in 2008, and he played an integral role in expanding the club’s implementation of data and analytics prior to the team’s consecutive World Series appearances. Kansas City also made a front office addition, though, welcoming Albert Gonzalez back to the organization as an assistant GM specializing in international operations. Gonzalez, a Miami native, worked for the Royals for 13 years before accepting a job with the Marlins back in 2006, according to Dodd. He’ll now be tasked with overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Royals’ international department.
    •’s Jon Morosi tweets that outfielder Cameron Maybin is among the Royals’ potential targets as they search for a new center fielder. The Royals are set to lose Lorenzo Cain as a free agent, and it was reported over the weekend that they see little chance of a reunion. Maybin brings plenty of baserunning value and reasonable contact skills to the table (19.2 percent strikeout rate over the past six seasons), both of which are areas the Royals have emphasized with great success in the past. Defensive metrics soured on his glovework in 2015-16, but he graded out as average or better in 450 center field innings per Defensive Runs Saved (neutral), Ultimate Zone Rating (+3.1) and Outs Above Average (+2). Maybin hit .228/.318/.365 with 10 homers and finished second in the American League with 33 stolen bases in 2017. (Kansas City’s Whit Merrifield led the AL with 34 swipes.)
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Crasnick’s Latest: Stanton, Ohtani, JDM, Darvish, Royals, McCutchen]]> 2017-11-13T15:20:45Z 2017-11-13T15:20:45Z In this year’s edition of his annual Hot Stove survey (an always-excellent read), ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick surveyed 40 front office execs and scouts from around the league on nine offseason issues as this week’s GM Meetings kick off. Among the topics discussed, at length, are the possibility of a Giancarlo Stanton trade (and his likeliest destination), where Japanese star Shohei Ohtani will land, how much J.D. Martinez can command in free agency, and whether Yu Darvish’s poor World Series showing hampered his free-agent stock. Crasnick also polled the 40 baseball ops/scouting minds on multiple groups of free agents and trade candidates, asking which will provide the most value and which are likeliest to be dealt.

    If you follow the offseason even loosely, you’ll want to be sure to read through the entire column, which is packed with quotes and insight from general managers, scouts and other front-office executives on the players in question and their potential landing spots. Some abbreviated highlights…

    • Three quarters of the respondents indicated that they expect Stanton to be traded this offseason, with nearly a third listing the Cardinals as the likeliest landing spot. The Giants were the second-most popular spot, though one scout tells Crasnick he has a difficult time envisioning that match, calling the Giants a “bottom-five farm system.” One respondent who felt Stanton would stay in Miami suggests to Crasnick that the Marlins may be underestimating just how much of the contract they’ll need to pay down.
    • The Yankees and Dodgers split the vote on the surveyed group’s likeliest destinations for Ohtani, with the Rangers not far behind. Several other clubs received a few votes, and four of the 40 respondents suggested that they believed Ohtani would remain with the Nippon Ham Fighters in 2018. There’s still some work to be done with the league, the players’ union and Nippon Professional Baseball before the posting process can begin in earnest. The agreement between MLB and NPB on the current iteration of the posting system expired this offseason.
    • The Red Sox were the overwhelming favorite when it came to the question of Martinez’s next team, though expectations for his contract varied in size. One GM pegged Martinez at around six years and $140MM, Crasnick notes. Some execs felt he’d fall closer to Justin Upton’s $106MM guarantee.
    • Only three of the 40 respondents thought that Darvish’s pair of World Series meltdowns would have a substantial impact on his offseason earning capacity. Crasnick’s piece has plenty of insightful quotes on Darvish — more than any other player — from the scouts that were polled. An AL scout tells Crasnick that 15 years ago, the World Series might’ve hurt Darvish, but in a largely sabermetric environment, his late struggles are a “void blip in the radar.”
    • Crasnick also asked respondents which of the Royals’ big three free agents (Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain) would provide the best value on his next deal, which of Carlos Gomez or Carlos Gonzalez had a better chance of reestablishing himself as a star, and which major 2018-19 free agent among Andrew McCutchen, Josh Donaldson and Manny Machado is likeliest to be traded this winter. I found it somewhat of a surprise to see Hosmer as the decisive favorite in that Royals question, though many scouts praised his glovework despite poor reviews from defensive metrics. McCutchen, less surprisingly, was deemed likeliest of his trio to go, while Gonzalez topped Gomez handily in their own respective face-off.
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Royals Re-Sign Seth Maness To Minors Deal]]> 2017-11-13T05:58:42Z 2017-11-13T05:58:42Z
  • The Royals re-signed right-hander Seth Maness to a new minor league deal.  Maness elected to become a free agent last month after K.C. outrighted him off its 40-man roster.  A workhorse out of the Cardinals’ bullpen in his first three seasons, Maness has been limited to just 41 1/3 IP over the last two seasons thanks to a torn UCL, though he opted for an innovative “primary repair” procedure that allowed him a much quicker return to action than the usual 12-15 month timeline for Tommy John surgery.

  • ]]>
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Latest On Royals' Top Free Agents]]> 2017-11-12T17:44:34Z 2017-11-12T17:44:34Z The Royals are holding out hope that they’ll be able to re-sign first baseman Eric Hosmer and third baseman Mike Moustakas, but they’ve “all but given up” on bringing back center fielder Lorenzo Cain, Jon Heyman of FanRag reports. Hosmer and Moustakas figure to collect two of the largest contracts of the offseason, which could pose a problem for small-market Kansas City, but owner David Glass believes the Royals would stay competitive by re-upping the homegrown duo and doesn’t want to “disappoint” the team’s fan base by letting either go, Heyman relays. Before Hosmer, Moustakas and Cain officially hit the market, each will have to reject $17.4MM qualifying offers from the Royals by Nov. 16. Unsurprisingly, that will happen, according to Heyman.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[NL Notes: Giants, Mattingly, Stanton, Braves, Schu]]> 2017-11-10T05:26:24Z 2017-11-10T05:26:24Z Giants executive Brian Sabean discussed his organization’s chief needs recently with reporters including’s Chris Haft. While the team is facing a difficult situation with regard to payroll — both in 2018 and beyond — Sabean says there’s urgency to improve in several areas. “Center field needs to be upgraded,” he said. We have to find an everyday third baseman. And we have to be resourceful in how we reconstruct the bullpen.” Those are the primary spots that seem in need of improvement from the outside; truly getting better, though, will require some combination of creativity and tough tradeoffs.

    Here’s more from the National League:

    • The Marlins have confirmed that Don Mattingly will, as expected, be back as manager, as Tim Healey of the Sun-Sentinel writes. The veteran skipper is under contract, as president of baseball operations Michael Hill noted, but the organization had not yet made clear in the midst of an ownership change that he would retain his role. (Of course, it would have rated as a big surprise had the team suddenly gone in a different direction at this point in the offseason.) Mattingly has said he’s excited to get underway with the new ownership group led by fellow Yankees legend Derek Jeter, but it’s yet to be seen just what kind of roster he’ll have to work with.
    • Speaking of notable possible roster changes, Hill has held a conversation with Giancarlo Stanton, Healey reports, but the Marlins are understandably keeping things close to the vest. Expectations remain that the club will slash salary through some significant trades; Hill acknowledged that things haven’t gone as hoped of late and says the goal is to “build a sustainable, consistent, productive major league organization.” Stanton’s massive contract and excellent 2017 season seemingly make him a rather obvious trade piece, and we took a look earlier today at some teams that could line up on paper for Stanton, but his no-trade clause gives him quite a lot of say in a future destination.
    • We’re still waiting to hear about league punishments for the Braves slate of alleged amateur signing transgressions, and it seems the wait will take a while longer. A decision is expected sometime between the GM Meetings and Winter Meetings, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. It’s likely that word won’t come down until December,’s Jerry Crasnick adds on Twitter. Interestingly, though, Sherman says that the organization could end up making a front office decision before the commisioner’s office acts. Indeed, the team has been “quietly interviewing” some potential candidates that could join the front office in some capacity, per Sherman, who adds that the preference remains to seek a reunion with Royals GM Dayton Moore — who hasn’t been allowed to speak with the Atlanta organization to this point.
    • The Giants have hired Rick Schu as their assistant hitting coach, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports on Twitter. Schu, a former big league third baseman, had served as the Nationals’ hitting coach since 2013 but was among the personnel allowed to seek other opportunities after the Nats decided not to retain Dusty Baker. Washington ended up hiring Kevin Long as its new hitting coach.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Morrison: Playing For Hometown Royals Would Be "Dream Come True"]]> 2017-11-10T01:49:27Z 2017-11-09T22:22:29Z
  • Free agent first baseman Logan Morrison told Jon Morosi and Jim Duquette in an appearance on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM today that playing for his hometown Royals “would be a dream come true.” (Twitter link, with audio) Morrison fondly recalls trips to Kauffman Stadium with his father as a child and says it would be “amazing” to be able to have his grandmother come to the park and watch him play regularly in 2018. “All of that stuff would be fun,” said Morrison, “but we’ll see what happens.” The 30-year-old Morrison, meanwhile, hit .246/.353/.516 with a career-high 38 home runs in a breakout campaign with Tampa Bay this past season. Despite that huge year, he didn’t receive a qualifying offer from the Rays and therefore won’t be tied to draft pick compensation. Kansas City will have a void at first base if Eric Hosmer leaves elsewhere, though Heyman notes in the aforementioned notes column that Hosmer is still the Royals’ top priority (at least among their own impending free agents). If he signs elsewhere, the Royals would recoup a draft pick — likely at the end of the first round.

  • ]]>
    Tim Dierkes <![CDATA[Examining Draft Pick Compensation For The 6 Teams That Could Lose Qualified Free Agents]]> 2017-11-09T00:53:16Z 2017-11-08T22:30:35Z Six different teams made qualifying offers to free agents this winter.  Assuming the nine players turn down the one-year, $17.4MM offer, here’s what each of those teams stands to gain in draft pick compensation.

    [Related: Offseason Primer: The New Qualifying Offer Rules]


    The Cubs made qualifying offers to right-handers Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis.  The Cubs were neither a revenue sharing recipient nor a competitive balance tax payor.  Therefore, regardless of the size of the contracts Arrieta and Davis sign, the Cubs will receive draft pick compensation after Competitive Balance Round B, which takes place after the second round.


    The Cardinals made a qualifying offer to starter Lance Lynn.  Like the Cubs, they were neither a revenue sharing recipient nor a competitive balance tax payor.  Regardless of the amount Lynn signs for, the Cardinals will receive draft pick compensation after Competitive Balance Round B.


    The Royals made qualifying offers to center fielder Lorenzo Cain, first baseman Eric Hosmer, and third baseman Mike Moustakas.  The Royals were a revenue sharing recipient.  If any of their three free agents sign for a guarantee of $50MM or more, the Royals get draft pick compensation after the first round.  For any of the three that signs for less than $50MM, the Royals get draft pick compensation after Comp Round B.  MLBTR projects all three players to sign for well over $50MM, so the Royals should have a very favorable draft pool in 2018, potentially adding three picks in the top 35 or so if all three sign elsewhere.


    The Rays made a qualifying offer to right-hander Alex Cobb.  They were a revenue sharing recipient and are subject to the same rules as the Royals, Rockies, and Indians.  However, Cobb is a borderline free agent when it comes to a $50MM contract, in our estimation.  The team will be rooting for him to reach that threshold, as the Rays would then net a compensatory pick after the first round.  If Cobb falls shy of that total guarantee, the Rays will receive an extra pick after Comp Round B.


    The Rockies made a qualifying offer to closer Greg Holland.  They were a revenue sharing recipient and are subject to the same rules as the Royals, Rays, and Indians.  Holland, too, is a borderline $50MM free agent, though he certainly figures to aim higher than that in the early stages of free agency.  If he reaches $50MM+, the Rox will get a pick after the first round.  If not, they’ll receive a pick after Comp Round B.


    The Indians made a qualifying offer to first baseman Carlos Santana.  They were a revenue sharing recipient and are subject to the same rules as the Royals, Rays, and Rockies.  Santana is another borderline $50MM free agent in our estimation, but it’s certainly possible he clears that threshold and nets Cleveland a pick after the first round.

    So, the Cubs and Cardinals already know where their draft-pick compensation will land if their qualified free agents sign elsewhere: after Competitive Balance Round B, which currently starts with pick No. 76.  The Royals, Rays, Rockies, and Indians will all be rooting for their free agents to sign for at least $50MM, granting them compensation after the first round, which begins with pick No. 31.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Royals Hire New Coaches To Round Out Staff]]> 2017-11-07T17:43:19Z 2017-11-07T17:34:15Z The Royals have completed their coaching staff with a slate of new hires, per a team announcement (h/t’s Jeffrey Flanagan; Twitter links). Kansas City has shaken up manager Ned Yost’s staff a bit as the organization enters an offseason of no little uncertainty.

    Terry Bradshaw has been hired as the new hitting coach. Last year’s hitting coach, Dale Sveum, was shifted to the bench coach role after the Royals parted ways with Don Wakamatsu. Previously, Bradshaw served as the K.C. organization’s minor-league hitting coordinator.

    On the pitching side, Cal Eldred will run the staff as the pitching coach. Last year, the position was held by Dave Eiland, who was among the coaches that were not retained at season’s end. Eldred, a veteran big league hurler, had served as a special assistant in the Cardinals and Royals front offices.

    Vance Wilson, a former big league catcher and recent minor-league skipper for the Royals, will serve as the new bullpen coach. Meanwhile, Pedro Grifol is set to function in a new role as quality control coach after previously serving as the catching coach. The Royals will also shift Mitch Maier to the first base coach’s box, per Flanagan.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Royals Notes: Hosmer, Rebuild, Kennedy]]> 2017-11-04T16:19:46Z 2017-11-04T16:19:46Z
  • The Royals’ pursuit of Eric Hosmer could decide their immediate future, as the team could decide to forego re-signing any of their other free agents and rebuild if Hosmer can’t be brought back into the fold.  It will take a sizeable offer to re-sign Hosmer, however, and while K.C. has been willing to spend to keep is championship window open, “their payroll is starting to press the limits.”
  • Ian Kennedy won’t exercise his opt-out clause, and will remain with the Royals for the three years and $49MM remaining on his contract.  While no official announcement has come from Kennedy or the team, the decision is an unsurprising one given the righty’s subpar season.  Kennedy said himself in September that “it would be pretty stupid” to head into free agency on the heels of an injury-hampered year that saw Kennedy post a 5.38 ERA over 154 innings.

  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Qualifying Offer Rumors: Saturday]]> 2017-11-04T06:25:29Z 2017-11-04T06:25:29Z The deadline for teams to issue qualifying offers is on Monday at 5pm EST. Between now and then, we’ll likely hear some chatter about players that likely will or will not receive the QO. It’s valued at $17.4MM this year. Those who need to brush up on the new rules should read this primer.

    While quite a few situations are obvious (in either direction), it’s worth bearing in mind that there have been surprises in the past. The Rockies dropped a QO on Michael Cuddyer in 2014, for example, while the Nationals decided against giving one to Edwin Jackson back in the QO’s first year of operation (2012), only to see him sign a four-year deal with the Cubs.

    Here’s the latest chatter from around the game:

    • The Royals, unsurprisingly, will issue qualifying offers to each of their three major free agents, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, and Lorenzo Cain each feature prominently on MLBTR’s ranking of the top 50 free agents — indeed, all are rated among the seven most valuable players on the open market — so it’s hardly surprising to learn that K.C. is going in this direction. That said, there had been at least some suggestion that the team had yet to decide on Cain, who is a fair bit older than the other two departing core members of the Royals’ memorable 2014-15 teams. He still figures to be in high demand as the best-available center field on the upcoming market. All told, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where any of these three players accepts the qualifying offer, meaning that the Royals ought to be lined up for a nice haul of draft picks once the dust settles. (Of course, it’s also still possible that one or even more than one of these players will return to Kansas City, in which case no draft compensation would be triggered for that player.)
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Mike Minor To Decline Mutual Option]]> 2017-11-03T15:22:56Z 2017-11-03T15:07:00Z Left-hander Mike Minor has declined his half of a $10MM mutual option and is now a free agent,’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports (via Twitter). He’ll receive a buyout of $1.25MM as part of the two-year, $7.25MM contract he inked with Kansas City prior to the 2016 campaign. The Royals have interest in re-signing Minor as their closer moving forward, he adds, but he’ll first have the opportunity to gauge interest from other clubs now that he’s hitting the open market.

    Mike Minor | Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

    Minor, 30 in December, missed the 2015 season due to shoulder surgery but landed a two-year pact in Kansas City, as they expected that he’d be ready to return to the mound as a rotation option in the first half of the 2016 campaign. However, lingering effects of that shoulder procedure kept Minor from taking the mound in the Majors at all in 2016.

    Though he didn’t make good on the first year of that two-year pact, Minor nonetheless proved to be an immense bargain. Healthy in 2017, Minor shifted to the bullpen and climbed the ranks in the Royals’ relief corps, beginning with low-leverage innings but eventually serving as the team’s closer late in the year.

    Minor was a genuine weapon working as a reliever. In 77 2/3 innings he averaged 10.2 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9 with a 42.4 percent ground-ball rate en route to a 2.55 ERA. Minor allowed just five homers all season and was utterly dominant against left-handed opponents (.161/.228/.196) while also rendering right-handed bats largely useless (.221/.281/.383). That performance made the decision to walk away from a potential $10MM salary in 2018 (a net of $8.75MM for Minor when factoring in the buyout) an easy one, as Minor should have no problem handily topping that mark in free agency.

    While some clubs will undoubtedly have some trepidation about the fact that Minor missed a pair of seasons following a shoulder operation, he showed no ill effects in 2017 and should be poised to command a strong multi-year deal. Bullpen help is in demand for all 30 teams each offseason, and left-handed relievers that can dominate both left- and right-handed hitters alike are rare commodities. That Minor exhibited an ability to work multiple innings throughout the year is a strong point in his favor as teams gravitate further away from rigid, one-inning relief roles.

    Minor figures to draw interest both as a closer and as a setup option for teams that already have strict closers in place. He could also find some interest from clubs that are intrigued by plugging him back into the rotation, but he’d almost certainly be leaving money on the table right now by rolling the dice on a return a starting role. Whatever contract he signs may contain some incentives based on starts and total innings if that’s a route he’s interested in pursuing, but more than half the teams in the league will probably be interested in adding Minor to their bullpen. That’s the best route for him to maximize his earning power, which figures to be substantial. We ranked Minor 18th on yesterday’s Top 50 Free Agent list and pegged him for a four-year deal just south of Brett Cecil’s $30.5MM pact in St. Louis.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Central Notes: Morneau, Lenik, Bell]]> 2017-10-31T18:30:36Z 2017-10-31T18:30:36Z Veteran first baseman Justin Morneau isn’t calling it quits yet, officially, but it sounds as if he has largely accepted that he likely won’t suit up again in the majors. In the course of a great chat on the podcast of Ben Nicholson-Smith and Arden Zwelling of (audio link), Morneau says it seemed at points last spring and even into the season that he might have a shot at joining an organization. Ultimately, though, things simply “didn’t line up” for the 36-year-old, who says he wasn’t really “willing to go down to Triple-A and ride the bus” at this stage, given his family obligations. A 14-year MLB veteran, Morneau long starred with the Twins and played most recently with the White Sox. Though he showed in 2016 that he can still hit major league pitching, he acknowledges that it “doesn’t look like there’s a lot of opportunities” out there for the coming season. (That’s a topic that’s covered further in the podcast, which is well worth a listen.)

    Here are some notes from the central divisions:

    • The Royals face a variety of challenges this winter, with a need to bolster the bullpen likely among them. But the team does have an intriguing option on hand in indy ball find Kevin Lenik, writes Jeffrey Flanagan of The 26-year-old is showing a big fastball and generated strong results upon reaching Triple-A, where he pitched to a 1.88 ERA with 24 strikeouts and eight walks over 24 frames in a dozen outings. Assistant GM J.J. Picollo suggests it’s likely (albeit still undecided) that Lenik will receive an invitation to MLB camp.
    • Buddy Bell has left the White Sox front office to join that of the Reds, as Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune reports. Bell had served as an assistant GM in Chicago and will now function as a senior advisor to top Reds baseball decisionmaker Dick Williams. A long-time big leaguer and former MLB skipper, Bell drew kind words from White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf on his way out the door. As Kuc notes, Bell has roots in Cincinnati and figures to make for a valuable addition to the organization’s front office.