Kansas City Royals – MLB Trade Rumors 2020-10-20T01:21:22Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom WordPress Steve Adams <![CDATA[Offseason Outlook: Kansas City Royals]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=256925 2020-10-16T16:30:04Z 2020-10-16T15:21:19Z The 2020 season was the third straight year in which the Royals finished in fourth of fifth place, but the club did begin to see some of the fruits of its rebuilding efforts break into the big leagues. They’ll head into the winter looking to supplement their lineup and plug some holes in the bullpen.

Guaranteed Contracts

Arbitration-Eligible Players (salary projections via MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz)

Option Decisions

  • None

Free Agents

The Royals’ record didn’t really reflect it, but the club still had some high points in 2020. Top pitching prospects Brady Singer and Kris Bubic, viewed as potential building blocks in the rotation, both made their big league debuts and held their own. Ups and downs were obviously to be expected given that Singer had just 16 Double-A starts under his belt and Bubic made the jump straight from Class-A Advanced, but the bottom-line results were plenty respectable. Singer tossed 64 1/3 frames with a 4.06 ERA and near-identical marks in FIP (4.08) and xFIP (4.05). Bubic was hit hard early but finished well, ultimately completing his rookie season with 50 frames and a 4.32 ERA (4.75 FIP, 4.48 xFIP).

There were positives in the bullpen, too, where minor league rolls of the dice on both Trevor Rosenthal and Greg Holland proved to be savvy. Moore spun Rosenthal into a prospect package headlined by an MLB-ready outfielder, Edward Olivares, while Holland anchored the bullpen and helped to ease some younger arms like Josh Staumont into higher-leverage spots. Moore has said he’ll look into re-signing both, but each right-hander should have a chance at garnering multi-year offers this winter, with Rosenthal in particular standing out as one of the most sought-after relief options on the market. Both are probably out of the Royals’ price range at this point.

The bullpen will still be a priority for Moore and his lieutenants this winter, but the primary focus could be on augmenting the lineup. Moore was candid in addressing his team’s offense following the season, proclaiming a need to improve his team’s on-base percentage and expressing a desire to upgrade at least two spots in the lineup. Whit Merrifield’s versatility will allow the Royals to explore a broad range of possibilities, but looking up and down the lineup, it’s rather clear where they could look.

Six spots in next year’s lineup appear largely set. Franchise cornerstone Salvador Perez will be back at catcher, and the Royals’ infield corners are set with Hunter Dozier at first and a revitalized Maikel Franco at third base. Adalberto Mondesi will man shortstop. Jorge Soler will serve as the DH. Merrifield can play either second or anywhere in the outfield, but recent usage seems to suggest the club prefers the latter. The Royals haven’t gotten much of a look at trade acquisitions Olivares and Franchy Cordero in the outfield, so bringing in two new outfield faces seems unlikely.

The outfield should be an easy spot to add one veteran, however, with affordable OBP-driven veterans like Brett Gardner, Matt Joyce and Robbie Grossman all likely to be available this winter. (Gardner does have a club option with the Yankees.) If Moore wants to buy low on another former top prospect, as he did with Franco, he could see whether Jurickson Profar’s September hot streak as the Padres’ left fielder proves sustainable.

If there’s a second spot in the lineup, it seems second base is likely. Moore was quick to praise Nicky Lopez’s glovework and overall upside, but there’s little overlooking that the former second-round pick has logged an awful .228/.279/.307 slash in just shy of 600 big league plate appearances. Said Moore in regard to his middle-infield duo (via Lynn Worthy of the Kansas City Star):

We love the combination of Mondesi and Lopez, especially defensively. I think we all recognize that there’s a lot of range, talent, athleticism, creativity, with those two. They’re able to make plays. I think that’s really important. We also all understand from watching our team play and from knowing baseball, you’ve got to have production from those spots. You can’t have a period of time when you’re not getting production out of shortstop and second base. You can live with one or the other struggling offensively, but not both.

Moore went on to state that the Royals are “prepared to give [Lopez] more time,” although that certainly doesn’t have to be in the Majors right away. There are varying ways to read into the comments — MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes sees it as a vote of confidence in Lopez for 2021 — but at the very least Moore left open the door for Lopez to return to Triple-A and iron out the kinks while a veteran provides more competitive at-bats.

The market is flush with veteran infielders and will be all the more so after the non-tender deadline. Players like Cesar Hernandez and Tommy La Stella would give the club the short-term OBP boost it seeks while Lopez works to bring his bat up to speed. If Kolten Wong’s 2021 option is bought out by the Cardinals, his combination of elite defense, speed and low strikeout rate is a skill set the Royals have prioritized often in recent years.

Clearly, none of the names listed are going to transform what was a light-hitting lineup into a powerhouse, but for a still-rebuilding club that ranked 26th in the Majors in OBP (.309), 25th in walk rate (7.8 percent) and 24th in total runs (248), adding some lower-cost options to boost the unit’s competitiveness is a sensible approach. Some tinkering with the bench is always possible, and a shortstop-capable infielder would prove particularly prudent if there is indeed some minor league time in Lopez’s future, as he’s also the primary backup for Mondesi at short.

The rest of the club’s lifting seems likely to be done on the pitching side of things, although as is usually the case, there’s little reason to expect the Royals will make a major splash. That’s in part due to their typically middle-to-lower tier payroll but also due to the stock of enticing arms that is bubbling up to the Majors.

Kansas City’s rebuild has been rooted in stockpiling interesting young pitching, and there’s more on the horizon beyond the aforementioned Singer and Bubic. Top prospects Daniel Lynch and Jackson Kowar also figure to make their MLB debuts in 2021. The quartet of Singer, Bubic, Lynch and Kowar probably won’t all pan out as quality big league starters — such is the nature of pitching prospects — but they’ll be given every opportunity to do so. That foursome should make plenty of starts in 2020, and the Royals have veterans like Danny Duffy, Brad Keller and the somewhat less-established Jakob Junis to help rounds things out. Perhaps they’ll still bring in a recognizable name on a low-cost or even minor league deal to stash some depth in Triple-A, but 2021 should be spent prioritizing opportunities for that promising young group. Each of Singer, Bubic, Lynch and Kowar landed on at least one Top 100 list of note heading into the 2020 campaign, after all.

That leaves the bullpen as the likely area of focus on the pitching side of things. As previously alluded to, Rosenthal, Holland and shared agent Scott Boras will likely be targeting multi-year arrangements in free agency this winter. Ian Kennedy’s ill-fated five-year deal is at last off the team’s books, but his departure creates another vacancy in Mike Matheny’s bullpen.

The Royals have some interesting arms in the ’pen, headlined by fireballing strikeout machine Josh Staumont and breakout former first-rounder Kyle Zimmer. Veteran Jesse Hahn, meanwhile, turned in perhaps the most quietly dominant season of any reliever in MLB this year: one run on four hits and eight walks with 19 strikeouts in 17 1/3 frames. Righty Scott Barlow posted big K/BB numbers, while rookie Tyler Zuber showed the ability to miss bats but needs to further refine his control before cementing himself in the group. Kevin McCarthy has been solid in the past, and Jake Newberry gave some cause for optimism in 2020.

While the organization has some intriguing arms in house, there’s room to add some low-cost supplements. If the Royals want to try to replicate this year’s Rosenthal/Holland jackpot, old friend Wade Davis is on the market in search of a place to rebound. A lefty could also be a sensible target for K.C., as they’re presently lacking much certainty in that regard. The relief market figures to be more volatile than ever this winter, though, with a few dozen new additions expected to join the fray by way of non-tender. That should present the Royals with ample opportunities for bargain hunting, and their lack of a defined closer could allow them to dangle save opportunities to a reliever of particular interest.

Turning away from free agency and looking to the trade market, the Royals have some options on whom they could listen — but a move isn’t as likely as fans of other clubs would expect or hope. Whit Merrifield’s name has been bandied about the rumor mill for years, but Moore has repeatedly gone on the record to quell such talk. It’s only natural to speculate on the trade of a quality player in his early 30s who has a team-friendly contract with a rebuilding club. However, the Royals operate differently in that regard than most of today’s teams. Expect to see rumblings of interest in Merrifield, of course, but an actual trade coming together feels unlikely.

Kansas City also has three players set to reach the open market next winter who’ll be points of focus over the winter. Salvador Perez likely becomes the de facto face of the franchise now that Alex Gordon has retired. With little catching help on the horizon in the farm, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Royals look to extend him next spring — revenue losses or not. There were suggestions last winter that the Royals had interest in hammering out a long-term deal with 2019 home run king Jorge Soler, though it’s not clear how or whether that lost revenue and an injury-hindered season for Soler have impacted that goal.

In the rotation, stalwart Danny Duffy is coming up on the final season of the five-year, $65MM extension he took in lieu of his first bite at the free-agent apple. He’ll turn 32 in December and is coming off a lackluster 4.95 ERA and 4.75 FIP in 56 1/3 frames, but he’s been a stable member of the staff there since moving to the rotation full-time in 2016. At $15MM next season, Duffy probably won’t command significant trade interest off a down year, and as noted in discussing Merrifield, the Royals tend to value continuity.

It’s certainly possible that the Royals will look to acquire some additional controllable options as they did when picking up Cordero and Olivares in separate deals with the Padres over the past several months. With Perez, Soler and Franco all entering their final season of club control and no set option yet at second base, there are myriad possibilities on which to speculate.

The American League Central is more competitive than at any point in recent years thanks to the emergent White Sox and continued strong showings from Minnesota and Cleveland. It’s tough to envision everything coming together for the Royals to jump right back into contention next year, but by the time 2021 rolls around they could have some major contracts off the books, a core of young rotation pieces that have all gotten their feet wet in the Majors and two more of the game’s elite prospects, infielder Bobby Witt Jr. and left-hander Asa Lacy, looming in the upper minors. A quiet offseason seems likely, but things are still beginning to look up in Kansas City.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Moore: Royals Need To Improve OBP, Supplement Bullpen]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=250238 2020-10-01T13:39:05Z 2020-10-01T13:39:05Z The 2020 season was another rough one for the Royals, although K.C. fans got their first looks at potential long-term rotation pieces like Brady Singer and Kris Bubic. Both were inconsistent but showed signs of their potential (Singer, particularly), and the club has more arms on the horizon. Top prospects Daniel Lynch and Jackson Kowar probably aren’t too far behind Singer and Bubic. For a club that finished 12th in ERA and 18th in FIP this season, it’s encouraging to have many promising young arms on the way.

As such, it’s not particularly surprising that general manager Dayton Moore focused more on a need to augment his lineup than his pitching staff during an end-of-season chat with reporters (link via Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com). The trade of Trevor Rosenthal and potential departure of Greg Holland creates a need to “supplement” the bullpen, per the GM, but Moore spoke more directly of a need to upgrade multiple spots in the batting order.

“We definitely need more on-base guys,” Moore said. “We need more quality [at-bats] from probably two other spots in that lineup.”

Indeed, the Royals’ .309 OBP tied them with the Mariners for the fifth-worst mark in all of baseball. Only the Tigers, Rangers and Pirates posted lesser on-base numbers.

Moore sounded pleased with this past winter’s addition of Maikel Franco, noting that the former Phillies top prospect helped to lengthen the lineup. Franco played in all 60 games of the season and posted a .278/.321/.457 slash that handily topped the composite .240/.300/.438 output from Royals third basemen in 2019. The 28-year-old, who is controlled through 2021 via arbitration, continued proving difficult for opposing pitchers to strike out (15.6 percent) and was six percent better than a league-average hitter by measure of wRC+.

Franco doesn’t necessarily fit the “on-base” mold that Moore referenced in this week’s comments, however. He’s walked in 6.8 percent of his career plate appearances, below the league average, and carries just a career .304 OBP. He was a valuable member of this year’s Royals club and certainly earned a spot on next year’s roster, but forthcoming additions might be a different mold of player.

So, where might the Royals look to upgrade? Moore and his staff have the benefit of some versatility in the lineup. Whit Merrifield continues to produce no matter which position he’s playing, and he can slot in at second base or any of the three outfield spots. Hunter Dozier looks like a potential long-term option at first base, but he can also handle right field. Both players’ ability to handle multiple spots should allow the Royals to pursue a broader array of targets.

We know Salvador Perez, signed through next season, will be back behind the dish after a brilliant rebound campaign in 2020. Adalberto Mondesi’s glove, wheels and still-tantalizing overall upside will keep him at shortstop, but he’s posted a sub-.300 OBP over the past three seasons. Jorge Soler will return as DH and bring his light-tower power and career 11 percent walk rate to that role. Alex Gordon, who had a .299 OBP in his final season, is calling it a career after 14 years in the Majors.

Perez, Dozier, Merrifield, Mondesi, Franco and Soler will likely occupy six of the Royals’ lineup spots in most of next year’s games, health permitting. That leaves the club open to pursue outfield upgrades at any of the three spots, an improvement over Nicky Lopez at second base (.228/.279/.307 in 594 career plate appearances) or perhaps a first baseman if Dozier is pushed back the outfield. The Royals probably won’t be fishing at the top of the free-agent market, but there are high-OBP names in the middle tiers of free agency at potential positions of need. Tommy La Stella, Cesar Hernandez, Robbie Grossman and Matt Joyce are among the options to have posted quality on-base marks in recent years. The trade market and an expected slew of non-tenders will only add further options for the Royals (and others) to explore.

The Royals won’t completely overhaul the outfield mix, as Moore spoke of a desire to see more from Franchy Cordero — a player he says he’s pursued in trades for three years. The Royals also picked up Edward Olivares in a second deal with the Padres, giving them another player to take evaluate in 2021. Still, it doesn’t sound as though we should be a surprised to see the club add a veteran outfielder and second baseman this winter as they continue a slow march back to competitiveness.

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Greg Holland, Jorge Soler Done For Season]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=248757 2020-09-26T00:18:46Z 2020-09-26T00:18:46Z
  • The Royals have placed reliever Greg Holland and outfielder Jorge Soler on the 10-day injured list with oblique strains, per a team announcement. They reinstated reliever Ian Kennedy from the IL and recalled first baseman/outfielder Ryan McBroom in corresponding transactions. The season’s now officially over for Holland, who enjoyed a major bounce-back year in his return to KC after signing a minor league deal in the offseason, as well as Soler. A 48-home run hitter a season ago, Soler totaled eight in 173 plate appearances this year and finished with a .228/.326/.443 line. He’ll be eligible for arbitration for the final time during the offseason.
  • ]]>
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Greg Holland Dealing With Oblique Injury]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=248647 2020-09-25T15:01:08Z 2020-09-25T15:01:08Z Royals closer Greg Holland was shut down after warming up last night due to an oblique injury, tweets Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com. That issue could seemingly render him unavailable for the remainder of the season.

    Regardless of whether Holland gets into one of Kansas City’s final three games, it’s hard to paint his 2020 season as anything other than a resounding success. The 34-year-old pitched 28 1/3 frames out of manager Mike Matheny’s bullpen and plowed through opposing lineups with a 1.91 ERA, a 2.51 FIP, 9.9 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, just one home run allowed and a career-best 51.4 percent ground-ball rate.

    Holland ramped up his slider usage to a career-high 50.7 percent this year, and his 93.3 mph average fastball was his best since 2017. The final stretch of games in 2020 proved particularly impressive, as Holland rattled off 13 1/3 shutout innings with just six hits and one walk while racking up 18 strikeouts. Certainly, ending on an injury — even a non-arm injury — isn’t an ideal way to finish out the season, but for a former star who returned to his original organization on a make-good minor league pact, the season could scarcely have gone much better.

    This winter isn’t expected to be particularly kind to mid-tier free agents, but Holland should easily find himself a guaranteed deal this time around and could conceivably field multi-year offers. The Royals held onto him at the trade deadline and will surely have interest in re-signing the veteran, although they have some in-house options to step into the ninth inning should he find a more enticing deal elsewhere. Josh Staumont and Kyle Zimmer have both taken substantial steps forward in 2020, while fellow righty Scott Barlow’s secondary metrics look much more impressive than his pedestrian 4.45 ERA. Flanagan wrote earlier this week that if the Royals can’t lure Holland or Trevor Rosenthal, whom they traded to San Diego last month, back to the organization in the offseason, they’ll likely explore similar additions of bargain veterans with some upside.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Alex Gordon To Retire At Season’s End]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=248131 2020-09-24T16:52:17Z 2020-09-24T16:01:10Z Royals icon Alex Gordon is set to announce his retirement after a 14-year career at the Major League level, reports Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com (via Twitter). The club has confirmed Gordon’s retirement. He’ll play out the remainder of the current season before formally calling it a career.

    Alex Gordon | Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

    Now 36 years old, Gordon was the No. 2 overall pick by the Royals back in 2005. He spent his entire professional career in the organization, helping to stoke a baseball renaissance in Kansas City as the Royals appeared in back-to-back World Series, including their 2015 victory.

    Long before Gordon was the face of the franchise, however, he was perhaps the poster child for not giving up on a top prospect after early struggles. Gordon spent just one full season in the minors before arriving in the big leagues with outlandishly high expectations in 2007. He put together a pair of solid but unspectacular seasons as the Royals’ third baseman in 2007-08 before a pair of injury-ruined campaigns in 2009-10 caused many to write the once-promising talent off at just 26 years of age. Struggles at third base had prompted the Royals to move Gordon to left field, and his .222/.319/.365 slash line in those two seasons certainly didn’t look like the savior for which Royals fans had pined after more than a decade of mediocrity.

    That feels like an eternity ago, and it’s entirely due to Gordon’s remarkable mid-20s turnaround. Healthy in 2011, Gordon erupted with a .303/.376/.502 batting line, strong baserunning skills and elite left-field defense that netted him the first of an eventual seven Gold Glove Awards. From 2011-15, Gordon batted .281/.359/.450 while making three All-Star Games and totaling 26.4 wins above replacement. His breakout made him the foundational bedrock upon which the team’s young core could be built up.

    Fellow homegrown talents such as Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez, Danny Duffy and Greg Holland joined trade acquisitions Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, James Shields and Wade Davis (among others) in fueling a brief but brilliant peak for GM Dayton Moore’s club. After a near-miss versus the 2014 Giants, the 2015 Royals ended a three-decade World Series drought. While Gordon’s overall postseason numbers — .222/.333/.398 — don’t stand out as dominant, the Royals may not have had a trophy to celebrate without his one-out, game-tying home run against Jeurys Familia in the bottom of the ninth of 2015’s Game 1 (video link).

    Gordon’s breakout and the team’s revenue boost from consecutive World Series showings gave now-former owner David Glass the financial comfort to offer the three-time All-Star a franchise-record contract valued at four years and $72MM. That arrangement spanned the 2016-19 seasons, and while Gordon mulled retirement this time last year, he ultimately opted to return for one final go-around.

    Certainly, Gordon wasn’t planning on doing so in the absence of the fans who hold him so dear in their hearts, but one can certainly imagine ample future opportunities for the K.C. faithful to express their gratitude. Teammate Whit Merrifield has already suggested that it’s “time to build the statue” on Instagram, and it seems there’s a good chance that Gordon will be the last Royal to ever don No. 4.

    With four games yet to play, we can’t be sure of the exact totals Gordon will carry into retirement, but his overall body of work is strong. In 7237 plate appearances, all with the Royals, he’s a .257/.338/.411 hitter with 190 home runs, 113 stolen bases, 357 doubles, 26 triples, 867 runs scored and 749 runs batted in. Since he became a full-time outfielder in 2011, Gordon has the fourth-most Defensive Runs Saved of any Major League player, regardless of position, with 112.

    All told, Gordon’s career has been worth 35 wins above replacement, per Baseball-Reference, although his value to the organization’s fans and the teammates who’ve followed his lead over the course of his career transcend that number. Gordon earned more than $117MM in his 14 MLB seasons and, along the way, cemented himself as a legend within the franchise’s lore — one who’ll be celebrated in Kansas City alongside greats like George Brett and Frank White for decades to come.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Royals Option Jakob Junis, Place Matt Harvey On Injured List]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=245080 2020-09-16T16:48:46Z 2020-09-16T16:48:46Z The Royals announced Wednesday that they’ve optioned right-hander Jakob Junis to their alternate training site and placed Matt Harvey on the injured list due to a lat strain. Righty Scott Blewett and infielder Erick Mejia are up from the alternate site in place of Junis and Harvey.

    For Junis, who turns 28 today, this move represents the latest step in a downward trajectory over the past two seasons. He looked to have emerged as a serviceable innings eater for Kansas City in 2017-18, when he tossed 275 1/3 innings over 46 starts, averaging 8.0 strikeouts, 2.2 walks and 1.54 homers per nine innings along the way.

    However, Junis was rocked for a 5.24 ERA last season, and the 2020 campaign has been nightmarish. He has yet to complete five innings in any of his six starts this year, and he’s surrendered at least two runs in each of those outings. Overall, he’s sitting on a 6.94 ERA and a similarly grisly 6.76 FIP. He’s falling behind hitters more regularly (57 percent first-pitch strike rate compared to 62.7 in 2018) and has already served up seven long balls on the year.

    Junis will need to stay down at the alternate site for 10 days unless he’s recalled in place of someone who is going on the injured list, so it’s quite possible that this move effectively ends his 2020 season. He’s already crossed the three-year threshold in terms of Major League service time this year, meaning he’ll be eligible for arbitration this winter. Given his 5.44 ERA and 5.05 FIP over his past 37 MLB starts and 198 2/3 innings, Junis isn’t a lock to be tendered a contract this winter.

    Harvey, too, seems likely to be done for the year in the wake of this injury. While there’s no official word on the severity of the strain, a lat strain typically isn’t something from which a pitcher returns in the minimum 10-day allotment. The former Mets ace had hoped this latest comeback attempt would prove more fruitful than previous efforts, but Harvey turned in his worst numbers to date at the MLB level. He managed just 11 2/3 innings between four starts and three relief outings, yielding 15 runs on 27 hits and five walks with 10 strikeouts along the way. Harvey served up six dingers in that stretch.

    If there’s a small silver lining, Harvey’s 94.5 mph average fastball was up from recent years, but it’s still shy of the 96-97 mph he averaged at his brief but dominant peak. Unfortunately for Harvey, injuries have decimated what looked to be one of the most promising young arms in the game earlier last decade. The former No. 7 overall pick logged a brilliant 2.53 ERA and 2.65 FIP through his first 427 Major League innings — plus another 26 2/3 frames of 3.02 ERA ball in the playoffs — but he’s undergone both Tommy John and thoracic outlet surgery. Few pitchers have had successful returns from a TOS procedure, and battling back from both of those major operations is an even more daunting task.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Royals Outright Matt Reynolds]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=245006 2020-09-16T13:43:23Z 2020-09-16T13:43:23Z Infielder Matt Reynolds, whom the Royals designated for assignment over the weekend, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Omaha, per a team announcement. That he was outrighted to Triple-A and not to the alternate training site is an important distinction, as it indicates that he’s been removed from the team’s player pool, thus rendering him ineligible to return to the Royals in 2020.

    The 29-year-old Reynolds appeared in three games with the Royals this season after signing a minor league pact over the winter. The former Mets and Nationals infielder was hitless in 11 trips to the plate in his first taste of big league action since the 2018 season in Washington.

    Reynolds, a career .212/.282/.323 hitter, has never seen more than 130 plate appearances in a Major League season but carries a solid track record at the Triple-A level, where he’s batted .286/.361/.441 in parts of six seasons (2038 plate appearances). That includes a .295/.401/.521 showing last year. The 2012 second-rounder has appeared at every position on the diamond other than catcher, even pitching two minor league innings, over the course of his professional career. His outright by the Royals likely puts an end to his 2020 season, but his Triple-A track record and defensive versatility should create opportunities for him to sign a minor league deal with a new club in need of infield depth this offseason.

    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Royals Make A Number Of Roster Moves]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=243941 2020-09-12T20:11:59Z 2020-09-12T20:11:59Z The Kansas City Royals have been busy this afternoon. They announced a number of roster moves. In terms of additions, Kelvin Gutierrez has been reinstated to the active roster from the injured list, and Nick Heath has been recalled. To make room, Matt Reynolds has been designated for assignment and Ryan McBroom has been assigned to the team’s alternate training site.

    Heath, 26, has 2 hits in 6 at-bats this season for the Royals, his first taste of big-league action. The speedy centerfielder split 2019 between Double-A and Triple-A, slashing .255/.345/.387. Heath is a burner who will get into games as a pinch-runner. He stole 60 bases last year in 73 attempts for an 82% success rate.

    Gutierrez has been a top-20 prospect for the Royals, but an elbow strain sent him to the 60-day injured list in July. He debuted last season, appearing in 20 games and slashing .269/.304/.356 as their starting third baseman for much of May. Injuries slowed his progress before a toe fracture ended his season in September. Maikel Franco takes his licks as the Royals’ regular third baseman these days, but the 26-year-old Gutierrez will serve as his backup, per MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan (via Twitter). Franco has spent time DHing recently due to a leg injury, so Gutierrez may get some playing time right off the bat. He’ll be at the hot corner and batting sixth for the Royals today.

    Gutierrez ostensibly takes Reynolds’ roster spot. The 29-year-old journeyman had taken on the backup third baseman role, but he went hitless in 11 at-bats while striking out 7 times. Reynolds was called up from the alternate training site earlier this week, but he’ll now be exposed to waivers before reassignment.

    McBroom is probably the most recognizable name of the bunch. He’s appeared in 34 games for the Royals this season. Most of his time has come at first base or designated hitter, but he’s also frequently been brought off the bench as a pinch-hitter and occasionally sees time in the outfield corners. A triple slash of .253/.291/.493 contributed negative 0.1 rWAR, but positive 0.2 fWAR for the 28-year-old this season. With Franco taking at-bats at designated hitter because of his leg injury, the Royals have less need for McBroom’s power bat.

    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Rays Acquire Outfielder Michael Gigliotti From Royals]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=243914 2020-09-12T18:54:48Z 2020-09-12T18:54:48Z The Rays have acquired speedy outfielder Michael Gigliotti from the Royals to complete a July 21st trade, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter). The deal allowed Kansas City to keep control over Rule 5 draft pick Stephen Woods Jr. The Royals have announced the deal. The team also announced the release of Ofreidy Gomez and the addition of right-hander Alec Marsh to the team’s alternate training site.

    The Royals selected Woods with the 4th overall pick of the 2019 Rule 5 draft. The 25-year-old right-hander made two appearances for the Royals this season without yielding a run. He was making the jump to the show from High-A, but this deal allows the Royals to move him freely from the active roster to the alternate training site as they so choose.

    Gigliotti was a 4th round draft choice of the Royals in 2017. Baseball America ranked him as the Royals #27 overall prospect heading into the 2020 season, while Fangraphs did not place him among their top 43 prospects. Fangraphs prospect scribe Eric Longenhagen wrote, “Gigliotti has the best approach and contact skills of this group but he’s performed against competition much younger than him and has been hurt a lot.” The slender 24-year-old split 2019 between the Royals of the Arizona League, Single-A, and High-A. Across the three levels, Gigliotti hit .282/.369/.368 while swiping 36 bags.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Royals Move Matt Harvey To Bullpen]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=243358 2020-09-10T21:47:56Z 2020-09-10T21:47:56Z Right-hander Matt Harvey has gotten another chance this year to get his once-great career back on track, but he hasn’t been able to take advantage of the opportunity since the Royals promoted him Aug. 18. He’ll now move to the Royals’ bullpen with a couple weeks left in the season, while Carlos Hernandez will join their rotation, Lynn Worthy of the Kansas City Star tweets.

    A front-end starter earlier in his career, injuries – including thoracic outlet surgery – knocked Harvey from elite status a few years ago. He hasn’t recovered since, and this is now the second straight horrid season in the majors for the Dark Knight. He struggled so much with the Angels last year that they bailed on him in July 2019 despite an $11MM investment. While Harvey did land a minor league contract with the Athletics the next month, he didn’t make it back to the majors last season and didn’t find another deal until the Royals signed him this past July.

    From the non-contending Royals’ standpoint, there wasn’t much to lose in giving the 31-year-old Harvey a shot. The buy-low move has yielded disastrous results so far, though, as Harvey has surrendered 13 earned runs on 22 hits (including five home runs) and an 8:5 K:BB ratio in just 10 innings. He hasn’t lasted longer than three innings in any of his five appearances with KC.

    Based on his performance in recent years, Harvey is likely headed for another minor league pact in the offseason. Of course, that’s if anyone wants to roll the dice on a hurler who has recorded a major league-worst 6.07 ERA in 317 1/3 innings since 2017.

    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Royals Place Jorge Soler On IL]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=242720 2020-09-08T17:28:20Z 2020-09-08T17:11:02Z The Kansas City Royals announced that outfielder Jorge Soler has been placed on the 10-day injured list with a right oblique strain. Matt Reynolds has been recalled to take his roster spot.

    Soler has not appeared in a game since Saturday. The Royals had hoped he’d heal enough from a few days off, but they still hope to get him back before the end of the season. Soler hasn’t quite lived up to the ceiling he set in 2019, but he’s remained a power threat in the middle of the Royals’ order. He owns a triple slash of .235/.331/.456 on the year over 159 plate appearances with 8 long balls and a still-robust .221 ISO.

    Ryan O’Hearn and Ryan McBroom have served as designated hitter the last two games. The Royals are likely to cycle different players through the role as long as Soler is out, using the spot to semi-rest regulars like Hunter Dozier, O’Hearn, or Maikel Franco.

    Reynolds is a 29-year-old left-side infielder who’s previously appeared in the majors with the Mets and Nationals. He spent all of 2019 with the Nationals’ Triple-A club in Fresno, putting up an impressive triple slash of .295/.401/.521 with 16 home runs. It was his best season by a fair margin, but given his age, the Royals do not likely expect much from Reynolds. That said, he could be one of the players used to cycle through as designated hitter, or he could spell Franco on occasion at third.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Royals Make Multiple Roster Moves]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=242175 2020-09-06T22:42:04Z 2020-09-06T22:42:04Z The Royals announced (Twitter links) several minor moves today, including the news that infielder Humberto Arteaga has been released.  Kansas City also outrighted left-hander Randy Rosario to the team’s alternate training site, while minor league righties Jonathan Bowlan and Jon Heasley have both been added to the 60-man player pool and will also report to the alternate site.

    Rosario will remain in the K.C. organization after he was designated for assignment on Thursday to clear a spot for newly-acquired outfielder Edward Olivares.  After coming to Kansas City on a waiver claim last September, Rosario’s first full season with the Royals has been a struggle, over the small sample size of 3 1/3 innings.  Rosario has a 8.10 ERA after allowing three runs from seven hits and three walks over four appearances.

    Arteaga had been part of the Royals’ 60-man player pool but never got the call up to the big league roster this season.  An international signing from the Dominican Republic in 2010, Arteaga’s long stay in the Royals’ farm system finally paid off with his first MLB promotion in 2019, as he hit .197/.258/.230 in 135 plate appearances.  Arteaga has mostly played shortstop during his career, but he also offers experience at second and third base to any new team who could be looking for utility infield depth.

    Bowlan and Heasley are both 23 years old, and were both members of the Royals’ 2018 draft class — Bowlan was selected in the second round (58th overall) and Heasley in the 13th round.  Neither pitcher has worked above the A-ball level, so it’s probably unlikely that either will be promoted to the MLB roster, though their inclusion at the alternate training site will help continue their development given the lack of any proper minor league baseball this season.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Jorge Soler Leaves Game With Oblique Soreness]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=242033 2020-09-06T03:20:35Z 2020-09-06T03:20:35Z
  • Jorge Soler left tonight’s game due to what the Royals described as right oblique soreness.  This is the second time in four days that Soler has exited a game due to such an injury, and perhaps on a related note, Soler is hitless over his last eight plate appearances.  Soler has been a few steps behind his big 2019 numbers this season, though he is still hitting a solid .237/.333/.459 with eight homers over 159 PA.
  • ]]>
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Royals Designate Randy Rosario For Assignment, Promote Edward Olivares]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=241161 2020-09-03T20:03:01Z 2020-09-03T19:45:43Z The Royals have designated left-hander Randy Rosario for assignment in order to open a spot on the active roster for outfielder Edward Olivares, who has been recalled from the alternate training site and will start tonight’s game in center field, manager Mike Matheny announced to reporters (Twitter link via Alec Lewis of The Athletic). Olivares was acquired in the trade that sent closer Trevor Rosenthal to the Padres.

    Rosario, 26, was a somewhat promising bullpen prospect as he rose through the Twins’ system several years back, posting quality numbers in the upper minors before getting hit hard in a brief debut look in 2017. The new Minnesota front office took him off the 40-man roster, and upon landing with the Cubs, Rosario turned in a 3.66 ERA in 46 2/3 frames of work as a rookie in 2018. However, his 30-to-22 K/BB ratio in that time didn’t inspire much confidence, and Rosario has indeed been hit hard in subsequent seasons. Dating back to 2019, he has a 5.09 ERA in just 17 2/3 innings.

    The Royals had spoken favorably of the hard-throwing Rosenthal, with GM Dayton Moore expressing a desire to keep him long-term, but the addition of Olivares to the Padres’ offer likely made it too tempting to overlook. The 24-year-old got out to a poor .176/.224/.294 start in his debut season this year, but that ugly line came in a tiny sample of just 36 plate appearances.

    The overall body of work for Olivares in the minors is much more favorable, highlighted by a .283/.349/.453 showing in the Double-A Texas League last year. That production may not appear especially potent at first glance, but it was 23 percent better than that of a league-average hitter in an extremely pitcher-friendly environment, per wRC+, and Olivares adds plenty of value on the bases and in the field as well.

    Beyond the 18 homers on which he connected last year, Olivares collected 25 doubles and a pair of triples while going 35-for-45 in stolen base attempts. Olivares has fanned in a relatively low 17.6 percent of his career minor league plate appearances and is considered an average or better outfielder capable of playing all three spots. At the very least, he seems capable of stepping in as a quality fourth outfielder, but the rebuilding Royals will likely give him ample opportunity to seize an everyday spot in their outfield moving forward.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Ian Kennedy Diagnosed With Grade 2 Calf Strain]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=240737 2020-09-02T20:10:51Z 2020-09-02T20:10:51Z An MRI revealed that Royals right-hander Ian Kennedy has a Grade 2 calf strain, manager Mike Matheny tells reporters (Twitter link via Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com). The team expects that he’ll need a minimum of three weeks to recover. That doesn’t technically close the door on Kennedy’s 2020 season, but it now seems quite doubtful that he’ll be able to make it back.

    It’s been a rough season for the 35-year-old Kennedy, who has yielded 14 runs through 14 innings of work for the Royals. While he’s still missing bats (15 punchouts) and exhibiting solid control (five walks, one intentional), he’s also been tagged for seven big flies already in that tiny sample.

    Kennedy has had an up-and-down tenure since signing a surprising five-year, $70MM contract with the Royals prior to the 2016 season. He pitched well in his first year with the club, logging 195 2/3 frames with a 3.68 ERA and nearly a strikeout per inning — precisely the type of performance for which the Royals hoped when he put pen to paper. Kennedy’s effectiveness dipped over the next two years, however, as he stumbled to a 5.06 ERA and allowed an average of 1.78 homers per nine frames.

    Expectations were relatively minimal when the Royals moved Kennedy to the bullpen in the 2018-19 offseason, but the righty looked rejuvenated in a late-inning role. Kennedy ultimately emerged as the Royals’ closer, pitching to a 3.41 ERA with 10.4 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9 while racking up 30 saves. The Royals even received some trade interest in Kennedy last summer as the deadline approached, but they preferred to hang onto their veterans rather than pay down salaries in trades that would net them marginal returns.

    The 2020 season was the last of Kennedy’s five-year deal with the Royals, so it’s possible he’s thrown his last pitch for the Kansas City club. He could of course be brought back on a small one-year deal or a minor league arrangement, but he’ll have the opportunity to speak to 29 other clubs before determining what’s next for him.