Kansas City Royals – MLB Trade Rumors 2021-04-17T17:44:33Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom WordPress Anthony Franco <![CDATA[Diamondbacks Acquire Nick Heath]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=437434 2021-04-17T17:44:33Z 2021-04-17T17:22:26Z The Diamondbacks acquired outfielder Nick Heath from the Royals this afternoon, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic was among those to relay (Twitter link). Right-hander Eduardo Herrera is headed back to Kansas City in return. To clear space for Heath on the 40-man roster, Arizona designated right-hander Jeremy Beasley for assignment.

The Royals had designated Heath for assignment earlier this week. The speedy outfielder has only taken 18 MLB plate appearances and has only picked up marginally more playing time at Triple-A. He does have rather significant experience at the Double-A level, though, were he’s compiled a .255/.333/.372 line over 500 plate appearances. The 27-year-old Heath also has all three minor league option years remaining, so he’ll give Arizona a center field capable player with roster flexibility. D-Backs center fielder Ketel Marte is currently on the injured list with a hamstring strain.

Beasley’s MLB experience consists of a third of an inning in one relief appearance. The 25-year-old has  worked as a starter in the minors, compiling a 3.59 ERA in 153 career innings at Double-A. Arizona will have a week to trade Beasley or attempt to pass him through outright waivers.

Herrera was originally signed by the D-Backs as a position player, but he converted to the mound in 2019. He has struck out 40 and issued 19 walks in 25.2 low minors innings. FanGraphs Eric Longenhagen wrote last month that Herrera throws in the mid-90’s but has inconsistent breaking ball feel and command, hardly a surprise for someone so new to pitching.

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Steve Adams <![CDATA[Royals Designate Nick Heath For Assignment]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=435285 2021-04-14T17:20:06Z 2021-04-14T16:40:40Z The Royals announced Wednesday that they’ve designated outfielder Nick Heath for assignment, reinstated righty Josh Staumont from the injured list and optioned righty Carlos Hernandez to their alternate site. Staumont was only just placed on the injured list earlier this week, though the Royals did not specify a reason.

Players can be placed on the injured list for Covid-19 related reasons — a positive test, close contact with someone who was positive, or self-reported symptoms — and briefly be removed from the 40-man roster while on the IL. Staumont has obviously been cleared to return in a day’s time, which suggests there was no positive test. However, the Royals also selected the contract of veteran righty Ervin Santana last night, so with Staumont now coming back onto the active roster, they needed a 40-man spot. Heath’s DFA will provide that roster spot.

Heath, 27, made his MLB debut in 2020 and went 2-for-13 with a double and a pair of steals in four tries. He’s not a particularly imposing threat at the plate, evidenced by a .266/.348/.361 batting line in four minor league seasons, but Heath is one of the fastest players in professional ball. Scouting reports at FanGraphs, MLB.com and Baseball America peg him at either 70- or 80-grade speed on the 20-80 scale. He’s swiped 160 bases in 200 tries (80 percent) through just 323 total minor league games.

Heath can play all three outfield spots and has a full slate of three minor league options remaining, so he could certainly intrigue another club in a minor trade or in the event that the Royals try to pass him through outright waivers. Kansas City will have a week to trade him or place him on waivers.

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Steve Adams <![CDATA[Several Former Big Leaguers Sign With Mexican League’s Guadalajara Mariachis]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=434930 2021-04-13T23:51:44Z 2021-04-13T23:50:04Z 6:50pm: Bonifacio’s representatives at CAA tell MLBTR that despite the announcement from Guadalajara, Bonifacio has not signed with the club and remains a free agent.

9:14am: Outfielder Jorge Bonifacio, infielder Dawel Lugo and right-hander Justin Grimm are among the former Major Leaguers on the spring roster for the Mexican League’s Guadalajara Mariachis, the team announced this week (Twitter link). Infielders Luis Sardinas and Deven Marrero are on the roster as well, as are pitchers Jason Gurka and Daniel Corcino. All have big league experience, though only Bonifacio, Grimm and Lugo were in the big leagues last season. Five-time MLB All-Star Adrian Gonzalez is also on the roster for the Mariachis, an expansion club in 2021, as was initially reported late last month.

Bonifacio, now 27, looked like a potential option for the Royals in right field back in 2017 when he slugged 17 homers in 113 games as a 24-year-old rookie. He batted .255/.320/.432 that season and was in line for a lengthier audition in 2018 before being hit with an 80-game PED suspension during Spring Training that year. Bonifacio struggled through 270 plate appearances upon returning and was out of the Royals organization a year later. He played in 30 games with the Tigers last season but managed just a .221/.277/.326 slash in 94 trips to the plate.

Grimm was an oft-used and generally successful member of the Cubs’ bullpen from 2014-16, working to a collective 3.36 ERA with a hearty 28 percent strikeout rate against a 10.5 percent walk rate through 171 1/3 innings in that time. He struggled considerably in 2017, however (5.53 ERA in 55 1/3 frames), and has yet to regain his form at the game’s top level. Now 32 years old, Grimm is certainly young enough to make another big league run if he can right the ship pitching with Guadalajara.

Lugo, meanwhile, was the headliner of the prospect package the D-backs sent to the Tigers in exchange for J.D. Martinez back in 2017. The now-26-year-old infielder appeared in the big leagues each season from 2018-20 but didn’t provide much reason for optimism, slashing just .236/.270/.358 in 400 plate appearances.

The 30-year-old Marrero was a first-round pick by the Red Sox in 2012, and while he’s a strong defender he’s never hit much in 163 big league games. Sardinas, 27, was a top prospect back in 2013-14 but hit .224/.274/.292 in 500 big league plate appearances from 2014-18. Gurka and Corcino both briefly reached the Majors between 2014-18, though they have only 40 2/3 total innings combined between them. Corcino does have a 3.97 ERA in his limited time, but he walked nearly as many hitters (13) as he struck out (16) in 22 2/3 innings.

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Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Royals Select Ervin Santana]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=435075 2021-04-13T22:37:42Z 2021-04-13T22:23:22Z Right-hander Ervin Santana is returning to the majors for the first time since 2019. The Royals selected the veteran’s contract, placed righty Josh Staumont on the IL for an undisclosed reason, recalled righty Tyler Zuber and optioned infielder/outfielder Ryan McBroom, Anne Rogers of MLB.com tweets.

Santana pitched for five big league teams, including the Royals, from 2005-19, and typically produced solid results while eating up a significant number of innings. The 38-year-old has six seasons of 200-plus innings under his belt, 2,421 in total, as well as a 4.09 ERA. While with the Royals in 2013, he fired 211 innings of 3.24 ERA ball, though Santana then rejected KC’s qualifying offer and went through a prolonged stay in free agency before signing with the Braves.

Santana lasted just one year in Atlanta before joining Minnesota, with which he delivered quality seasons in 2016-17. However, a middle finger injury limited Santana to five starts, 24 2/3 innings and an ugly 8.03 ERA. He continued to struggle during his most recent action, as he recorded a 9.45 ERA in three starts and 13 1/3 frames as a member of the White Sox. Santana finished the year in the Mets organization, but he didn’t pitch for them that season, and he sat out 2020 before signing a minors pact with the Royals.

Santana has started in 384 of 387 appearances, though it remains to be seen which role he’ll fill now. Notably, Royals starters have put up a 5.56 ERA – the sixth-worst mark in baseball.

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Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Royals Place Jesse Hahn On 10-Day Injured List]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=434693 2021-04-12T19:45:19Z 2021-04-12T19:44:02Z The Royals have placed right-hander Jesse Hahn on the 10-day injured list due to right shoulder impingement syndrome, the team announced.  Righty Jake Newberry has been called up from the alternate site to take Hahn’s spot in the Kansas City bullpen.

It isn’t yet clear how long Hahn might be out of action, though manager Mike Matheny told reporters (including MLB.com’s Anne Rogers) that Hahn will miss “some time” with the injury.  According to Matheny, Hahn felt a shoulder issue while warming up for an appearance yesterday against the White Sox, though he didn’t tell team trainers or coaches about the problem until after the game.  Hahn was clearly affected by the injury — he issued a walk, a two-run homer to Adam Eaton, and then another walk before being removed from the game without a single batter retired.

Hahn is unfortunately no stranger to arm injuries, having undergone a Tommy John surgery and another UCL repair procedure already on his record.  Thanks to that latter surgery, he has pitched only 25 1/3 Major League innings pitched since being acquired by K.C. in January 2018.

Hahn posted an 0.52 ERA/3.93 SIERA over 17 1/3 innings in 2020, though benefited from quite a bit of batted-ball luck (an absurdly low .108 BABIP).  The Royals were counting on the 31-year-old to serve in a setup or high-leverage role this season, though Hahn had posted an 8.10 ERA and looked shaky over 3 1/3 innings even prior to Sunday’s disastrous outing.

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Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Royals Outright Meibrys Viloria, Scott Blewett]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=429122 2021-04-07T02:59:03Z 2021-04-07T02:59:03Z
  • The Royals designated catcher Meibrys Viloria and righty Scott Blewett last week, but it appears both players will stay in the organization. They announced that Viloria will head to Double-A, while Blewett will go to their alternate site. The 24-year-old Viloria batted .215/.266/.287 with one homer in 201 trips to the plate with the Royals from 2019-20. Blewett, also 24, was a second-round pick of the Royals in 2014 who made a two-appearance, three-inning major league debut a season ago. He put up a disastrous 8.52 ERA with 56 strikeouts and 46 walks in 81 1/3 Triple-A frames in 2019.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Latest On Hunter Dozier]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=426910 2021-04-05T00:36:25Z 2021-04-05T00:36:25Z
  • The swelling in Hunter Dozier’s right thumb has gone down, Royals manager Mike Matheny told the Kansas City Star’s Lynn Worthy and other reporters, and Dozier was set to participate in an on-field workout.  While Dozier didn’t make a defensive appearance during today’s game, it doesn’t seem like he’ll be out of the lineup for much longer.  The newly-extended infielder hasn’t played since leaving Thursday’s game with the thumb issue.
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    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Hunter Dozier Day-To-Day]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=426279 2021-04-04T05:19:36Z 2021-04-03T21:03:02Z
  • Hunter Dozier’s hand is swollen, but the Royals don’t think he’ll miss enough time to warrant a roster move, per Lynn Worthy of the Kansas City Star (via Twitter). Dozier left Thursday’s opener late in the game when he right thumb swelled up as he took practice swings. Hanser Alberto was his in-game replacement, and he’s a good candidate to start games at the hot corner until Dozier is well enough to go again.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Royals Designate Meibrys Viloria, Scott Blewett For Assignment]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=424644 2021-04-01T16:03:46Z 2021-04-01T15:27:03Z The Royals announced Thursday that they’ve designated catcher Meibrys Viloria and right-hander Scott Blewett for assignment. Their spots on the 40-man roster will go to outfielder Kyle Isbel and lefty Jake Brentz, whose contracts have been formally selected from Triple-A Omaha.

    Viloria, 24, has spent parts of the past three seasons with the Royals but managed only a combined .215/.266/.287 batting line through 201 trips to the plate. He batted .264/.334/.332 in 248 Double-A plate appearances in 2019 but hasn’t played a game at the Triple-A level, in part due to last year’s canceled minor league season.

    Viloria has never been expected to hit much, but he’s regarded as a sound defender with a rocket arm — a trait reflected in his career 34 percent caught-stealing rate. He still has a minor league option remaining, so he could intrigue another club in need of some depth behind the plate.

    Blewett, also 24, pitched in just two games last year — his only MLB action to date. He served up a pair of runs in three innings and was tagged for another couple runs in 1 2/3 frames this spring, but he hasn’t gotten much of a look against MLB hitters to date. He’s worked primarily as a starter in the minors and had some modest success up through Class-A Advanced, but Blewett has been hit hard in both Double-A and Triple-A. Though he has solid command, he doesn’t miss bats or induce grounders at a particularly high rate. Like Viloria, he has a minor league option remaining.

    The Royals will have a week to trade both players or attempt to pass them through outright waivers.

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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Kyle Isbel Makes Royals’ Roster]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=423746 2021-03-31T21:35:22Z 2021-03-31T21:34:44Z Outfielder Kyle Isbel has made the Royals’ Opening Day roster, manager Mike Matheny announced Wednesday (via Anne Rogers of MLB.com). The Royals already have a full 40-man roster, so they’ll have to make room before officially adding Isbel to it.

    Isbel, who turned 24 earlier this month, has been a Royal since they used a third-round pick on him in 2018. He hit well at the rookie and Single-A levels during his first two years in the organization, though Isbel batted just .216/.282/.361 (86 wRC+) with five home runs and eight stolen bases in 214 plate appearances during his High-A debut in 2019. Nevertheless, he remains a well-regarded farmhand for Kansas City, as Baseball America ranks Isbel the team’s sixth-best prospect and writes that he could be a high-average, 15- to 20-HR hitter who offers “plus speed” and quality defense in the majors.

    There was no minor league season in 2020, but Isbel turned heads at the Royals’ alternate site and then came back strong this spring with a .333/.420/.548 line and five extra-base hits (three doubles, two homers) in 42 at-bats. Along with Isbel, Andrew Benintendi, Michael A. Taylor and Jarrod Dyson figure to be the Royals’ top choices in the outfield at the start of the season.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Royals Place Adalberto Mondesi On Injured List]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=423463 2021-03-31T17:32:09Z 2021-03-31T17:15:00Z The Royals announced Wednesday that shortstop Adalberto Mondesi has been placed on the 10-day injured list due to a right oblique strain. The move is retroactive to March 30. Fellow infielder Nicky Lopez is up from the team’s alternate site to take Mondesi’s spot on the Opening Day roster.

    It’s something of an out-of-the-blue placement, as Mondesi played as recently as Monday and hasn’t been known to be battling any soreness in his oblique. The 25-year-old speedster turned in a .303/.343/.606 slash with two homers, a triple, two doubles and two stolen bases through 36 plate appearances this spring. He was limited early in camp after being hit by a pitch on his foot but had put that minor injury behind him.

    It’s a sour note on which to start the season for Mondesi, who played in 59 of the Royals’ 60 games last season while slashing a combined .256/.294/.416 with a league-leading 24 steals. He’s battled shoulder and groin injuries in seasons prior, however, and will now be out at least a week early in the season — perhaps a good bit more. The Royals have yet to announce a timeline on Mondesi or the grade of the strain, but it’s common for oblique strains to sideline players for upwards of a month. The Royals will surely have more information on his status later today when skipper Mike Matheny meets with reporters.

    With Mondesi sidelined for the time being, it’ll likely fall to the light-hitting Lopez to handle everyday work at shortstop. The 26-year-old is known as a strong defender but has managed just a .228/.279/.307 slash in 594 big league plate appearances.

    For much of the offseason, Lopez was expected to be the Royals’ primary second baseman in 2021 — or at least to have a strong chance at winning the job in camp. However, his .118/.231/.147 batting line through 39 Cactus League appearances left him as an odd man out at the end of camp. Kansas City optioned him on Monday, deciding instead to move Whit Merrifield back to the infield to cover second base and leaving outfielders Michael A. Taylor, Kyle Isbel, Ryan McBroom and Jarrod Dyson in the mix for playing time in center and right alongside left fielder Andrew Benintendi .

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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Royals Select Hanser Alberto]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=421309 2021-03-29T23:47:09Z 2021-03-29T23:47:09Z The Royals have added infielder Hanser Alberto to their 40-man roster, Alec Lewis of The Athletic was among those to report. Their 40-man is now full.

    Alberto, previously with the Rangers and Orioles, signed a minor league contract with the Royals over the winter. He’ll now earn a $1.65MM salary, potentially with another $350K in bonuses, off the Royals’ bench. As someone with quite a bit of experience at both second and third base, the 28-year-old will provide Kansas City some insurance behind Whit Merrifield and Hunter Dozier. He’ll also give the team a stopgap until it’s ready to promote top infield prospect Bobby Witt Jr., whom it reassigned to the minors earlier this month.

    Alberto had rough seasons in Texas from 2015-18 (he didn’t appear in the bigs in ’17), but he did hit for good averages in Baltimore in the past two seasons. He ended his Orioles tenure as a .299/.322/.413 batter with a meager 10.2 percent strikeout rate (albeit with a minuscule walk percentage of 2.7) over 781 plate appearances. Most of the 28-year-old right-hander’s damage came against lefty pitchers, whom he victimized for a .394/.411/.532 line in 280 trips to the plate as an Oriole.

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    Anthony Franco <![CDATA[Offseason In Review: Kansas City Royals]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=417843 2021-03-29T01:06:12Z 2021-03-29T01:06:39Z The Royals have been near the bottom of the American League three years running. They took steps to correct that over the winter, adding a few veterans to deepen the roster. This spring, the Royals locked up a couple key contributors on long-term extensions, one via the largest deal in franchise history.

    Major League Signings

    Trades and Claims

    Notable Minor League Signings

    Extensions

    Notable Losses

    The Royals’ run of consecutive losing seasons reached four in 2020, as they finished 26-34 in the abbreviated slate. That was at least an improvement over 2018-19, during which time Kansas City had the third-worst combined record in the league (better only than the Orioles and Tigers). The Royals view 2020 as a stepping stone, a sign the organization has put those horrible two seasons behind them. Entering the offseason, general manager Dayton Moore said he expected the team to be more competitive in 2021 than it had been in years past.

    Moore was also rather forthright about what he saw as the team’s deficiencies. “We definitely need more on-base guys,” the GM told reporters last October. “We need more quality [at-bats] from probably two other spots in that lineup.” Not coincidentally, the Royals’ biggest free agent position player pickup ended up being Carlos Santana. The veteran first baseman is one of the game’s best at taking quality at-bats. Since breaking into the majors in 2010, Santana has reached base at a .366 clip, a mark that ranks 25th leaguewide (minimum 2000 plate appearances).

    The Royals inked Santana to a two year, $17.5MM guarantee in December. It was a bit of a surprise to see him command a multi-year deal coming off a .199/.349/.350 line in Cleveland. Despite the mediocre bottom line numbers last year, Santana’s strike zone feel was strong as ever. The switch-hitter walked at an incredible 18.4% clip while punching out just 16.9% of the time, making him one of only seven qualified hitters with more free passes than strikeouts.

    Santana was the Royals’ only major league free agent infield pickup, but the club made another important addition on a minor-league contract. Kansas City agreed to a non-roster deal with Hanser Alberto, who had been non-tendered by the Orioles. The 28-year-old seems likely to make the Opening Day roster and push incumbent second baseman Nicky Lopez for playing time. (Before signing Alberto, the Royals pursued Jurickson Profar in free agency, but the latter eventually returned to the Padres on a three-year deal).

    Lopez won’t begin the year on the active roster, having been optioned to Triple-A. The Royals could turn to Whit Merrifield, who has bounced between second and the outfield in recent years, at the keystone. Alternatively, Kansas City could move Merrifield to right field on a regular basis and give the second base job to Alberto with Lopez in the minors. Alberto never walks but he makes a ton of contact, resulting in a productive .299/.322/.413 line (95 wRC+) over the past two seasons. Top prospect Bobby Witt Jr. impressed in Spring Training and could also be an option at some point this season. He’ll begin the year in the minors, perhaps at Double-A.

    The left side of the infield will be filled internally. Adalberto Mondesi hasn’t consistently performed at the plate but he’s shown flashes of power, good defense and elite baserunning. The 25-year-old will get another shot at a breakout season at shortstop. After breaking in as a third baseman, Hunter Dozier moved to right field last year to accommodate the signing of Maikel Franco. Franco was reasonably productive in 2020, but the Royals non-tendered him rather than pay an arbitration salary projected in the $4.5MM – $8MM range. With Franco gone, Dozier moves back to the hot corner.

    The outfield will look quite different than it has in the past. Franchise icon Alex Gordon retired at the end of last season. One of the faces of the Royals’ mid-2010’s playoff runs, Gordon walked away after an illustrious 14-year career in Kansas City. It’ll be difficult to replace his perennially elite left field defense, to say nothing of the unquantifiable impact he had in the locker room and in the community. But Gordon was a below-average hitter in each of his final five seasons, so there’s certainly room for more offense at the position.

    The Royals hope that production comes from their top trade pickup of the offseason. In need of a new left fielder and on the hunt for a left-handed bat to better balance the lineup, Kansas City acquired Andrew Benintendi from the Red Sox as part of a three-team deal. They’re buying low on the 26-year-old, who took a bit of a step back from his peak form in 2019 before suffering through a disastrous 2020.

    The Royals sent outfielder Franchy Cordero, whose blend of power and speed continues to intrigue teams despite a lengthy injury history and swing-and-miss issues, back to the Red Sox, along with a pair of players to be named later. Outfield prospect Khalil Lee was moved to the Mets as part of the deal. Benintendi is controllable for a pair of seasons, and the Red Sox will pay $2.8MM of his $6.6MM salary in 2021.

    In the other corner outfield spot, the Royals could turn to Merrifield regularly with Alberto and/or Lopez at second base. When Merrifield’s on the dirt, Edward Olivares, Nick Heath and prospect Kyle Isbel could work in right. Those players could all be options in center field, as well, but the bulk of time there seems likely to go to a pair of free agent signings. The Royals have long valued speed and range more than most teams, and their moves at the position reflect that. Kansas City signed each of Michael A. Taylor and Jarrod Dyson to low-cost, one-year deals. Neither player offers much at the plate, but they’re high-end defenders and Dyson, in particular, is an excellent baserunner.

    Dyson’s addition is also emblematic of another organizational pattern: reacquiring former Royals. Last winter, Kansas City brought back former All-Star closer Greg Holland on a minor-league deal. That proved to be a masterstroke, as Holland tossed 28.1 innings of 1.91 ERA/3.20 SIERA ball, eventually reclaiming his old ninth inning role. The veteran righty is back again, having re-signed on a surprisingly modest $2.75MM contract this offseason.

    Holland isn’t the only member of the Royals’ old fearsome bullpen to return. Wade Davis, arguably the best reliever in baseball from 2014-16, will be on the Opening Day roster after signing a minor-league deal over the winter. Davis’ stint with the Rockies was a disaster, and he’s now a couple years removed from being productive. But there’s little risk in bringing him back and hoping for a resurgence. That’s also true of former Oriole bullpen stalwart Brad Brach, a fellow minor-league signee.

    The team’s biggest free agent pickup of the winter is another player who once had plenty of success in Kansas City. Mike Minor revived his career with a breakout 2017 season working out of the Royals’ bullpen. That earned him a three-year deal with the Rangers, where Minor stretched back out as a starter. The lefty had plenty of success over his first two years in Texas, earning an All-Star selection in 2019. Minor had a difficult 2020 season in terms of run prevention, pitching to a 5.56 ERA in 56.2 innings. He struck out a career-best 25.9% of opposing hitters, though, and pitched to a 4.20 SIERA that was actually better than in either of his previous two seasons.

    The Royals’ front office clearly believes in Minor’s ability to bounce back, as they signed the 33-year-old to a two-year, $18MM guarantee with a 2023 club option. He joins Brad Keller and Danny Duffy as rotation locks. Brady Singer seems likely to open the year in the starting five as well. Jakob Junis and Kris Bubic will almost certainly factor into the rotation at some point (although Bubic will open the year in the minors). Prospects Jackson Kowar and Daniel Lynch are in camp as non-roster invitees, as is Ervin Santana, another former Royal brought back over the winter.

    Many teams around the league scaled back payroll this offseason on the heels of last year’s revenue losses. The Royals are an exception, entering 2021 in the same range they were prepared to open 2020. Cot’s Baseball Contracts pegs their projected Opening Day payroll at just under $88MM (not yet including Davis’ $1.25MM salary, which became guaranteed when he earned a spot on the active roster). The Royals opened last season just north of $89MM (before prorating salaries), Cot’s estimates.

    Adding Davis to the ledger should put the Royals’ 2021 payroll at or a little above last year’s mark. (If Alberto makes the team, he’d lock in a $1.65MM base salary). That’s still one of the lower figures in the league and around $54MM shy of 2017’s franchise-record outlay of $143+MM. However, that the Royals didn’t dramatically cut costs this winter could bode well for their chances of increasing future spending as they put their rebuild behind them.

    Indeed, the Royals have started to fill in the long-term books over the past few weeks. That began with an extension for Dozier that guarantees $25MM and keeps him under club control through 2025. It’s a bet on a bounce back for the 29-year-old, who performed well in 2019 before falling off a bit last year. Dozier had to work back from an early bout with COVID-19, so it’s not unreasonable to believe he can regain some of his lost power with a more normal offseason.

    The Dozier extension was a precursor to a more meaningful pact. The Royals locked up Salvador Pérez, who had been scheduled to reach free agency after this season, on a four-year extension covering 2022-25 and including a club option for 2026. The deal guarantees the 30-year-old backstop $82MM and can max out at $93MM over five seasons, making it the largest investment in franchise history.

    It was a bit surprising to see Pérez command that level of commitment, particularly a year in advance of free agency. Still, he’s clearly beloved within the organization and by the Kansas City fanbase and is coming off an incredible 2020 season. No one expects Pérez to repeat last year’s .333/.353/.633 slash line over a larger sample, but Pérez is one of the game’s preeminent workhorses behind the plate and has a long track record of outhitting others at the position.

    It’s possible Moore and his front office look to hammer out another long-term deal or two in the next few days. They reportedly discussed an extension with Mondesi early in Spring Training. Talks apparently didn’t get very far, but they could revisit those negotiations. Mondesi is controllable through 2023 via arbitration.

    There’s a bit more urgency if the front office wants to keep Jorge Soler off the open market. The 2019 AL home run champ is scheduled to be a free agent at year’s end. The Royals had interest in working out an extension with Soler last offseason. It isn’t clear if that’s still the case after he hit just .228/.326/.443 and battled an oblique injury in 2020.

    It remains to be seen whether the Royals did enough to seriously contend for a playoff spot this season. Public projections still paint them as something of a longshot, but the fanbase has some reason for hope for the first time in a while. At the very least, the Royals should be more competitive in 2021 than they’ve been over the past few years.

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

     

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    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Royals Option Nicky Lopez]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=420235 2021-03-29T00:21:47Z 2021-03-29T00:12:45Z In a somewhat surprising move, the Royals have optioned second baseman Nicky Lopez to Triple-A, per Lynn Worthy of the Kansas City Star (via Twitter). Whit Merrifield is now in line to move in from the outfield to man second base, notes the Athletic’s Alec Lewis (via Twitter).

    Looking at the numbers, it’s not a shock to see Lopez sent down for further seasoning. His 55 wRC+ across 192 plate appearances in 2020 ranked dead last among the 142 qualified hitters in the Majors. He slashed .201/.286/.266 with a meager .065 ISO. Specifically, the quality of his contact was lacking: He finished in the fourth percentile league-wide for exit velocity, barrel rate, and expected slugging. That said, he provides elite defense at the keystone, he runs well, and with a 9.4 percent walk rate and 21.4 percent strikeout rate, his approach at the plate is solid.

    Despite his struggles, the Royals have stood behind Lopez. It certainly seemed as if they were planning on entering 2021 with Lopez as their starting second baseman. Per MLB.com’s Anne Rogers (via Twitter), manager Mike Matheny commented, saying, “We had some conversations, knowing that we have some time to get his swing in the right place. He’s been working the last several days and has made some good strides.”

    With Lopez heading to Triple-A and Merrifield moving to second, Kyle Isbel looks like a possibility to start the season in right field. He would need to be added to the 40-man roster, as does Hanser Alberto, who seems likely to make the roster as a reserve infielder. Alberto could benefit from extra playing time, with Hunter Dozier seeing time in right. If not Isbell, Jarrod Dyson, Nick Heath, Edward Olivares, or Ryan McBroom could be given more playing time in the outfield. Alternatively, Jorge Soler could see time in right, and the Royals could deploy a rotating designated hitter.

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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Royals Select Wade Davis’ Contract]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=419833 2021-03-28T15:27:18Z 2021-03-28T15:06:57Z The Royals announced that they have selected the contract of right-hander Wade Davis.  As per the terms of his minor league deal signed back in January, Davis will earn $1.25MM in guaranteed salary and can earn up to $1.125MM more in incentives.  No corresponding move was required, as K.C. had open space on its 40-man roster.

    With both Greg Holland and now Davis back in the mix, the Royals have reassembled two-thirds of the Law Firm bullpen that played such a huge role in the team’s back-to-back AL pennants in 2014-15.  (Kelvin Herrera, the other “partner” in the firm, retired in February.)  Holland enjoyed a fine bounce-back season in 2020 after signing a minors deal with Kansas City last winter and returned again on a one-year, MLB contract this offseason.

    The Royals hope a similar turn-around is in the cards for Davis, who tossed six scoreless innings in Spring Training, albeit with three walks to two strikeouts.  Davis is looking to rebound from a rough three-season tenure with the Rockies that saw the righty post decent numbers in 2018 before struggling badly over the last two years.  2020 was the low point, as Davis spent time on the injured list with a shoulder strain and was crushed to the tune of a 20.77 ERA over only 4 1/3 innings pitched.

    Though Holland is expected to once again factor into Kansas City’s late-game picture, Davis is being eyed for more of a standard middle relief role, and will have to pitch well to earn more higher-leverage innings.  Davis, Holland, and Jesse Hahn are the experienced hurlers within an overall pretty young K.C. bullpen.  Ervin Santana is another veteran in camp on a minor league contract, and he also still has a shot at breaking camp with the team.

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