The Royals have designated right-hander Joel Payamps for assignment and optioned infielder Maikel Garcia to Triple-A Omaha, per a club announcement. That pair of moves will open roster space for Hunter Dozier to return from the paternity list and for righty Max Castillo to be recalled from Omaha. Castillo, whom the Royals acquired in the trade that sent Whit Merrifield to Toronto, will start tonight’s game in place of veteran Brad Keller, who has been moved from the rotation to the bullpen.
Payamps, 28, has been a solid member of the Kansas City bullpen this season, working to a 3.16 ERA with a 17.6% strikeout rate, an 8.5% walk rate and a hearty 53.3% ground-ball rate, all of which makes his DFA at least a mild surprise. Fielding-independent metrics aren’t quite as bullish on the righty, who’s benefited from an elevated 78.9% left-on-base rate and given up a fair bit of hard contact (40.9%). Still, Payamps is averaging a career-high 95 mph on his heater, keeping the ball on the ground at a career-best rate and sporting a career-best 10.1% swinging-strike rate.
It’s not an elite package of results and secondary marks, but Payamps has had a better year than the standard DFA casualty and figures to have a decent chance of being claimed on waivers. That’ll be the Royals’ only course of action, as he can’t be traded now that the deadline has passed. Payamps is controllable for another four years beyond the current season but is out of minor league options, so any team to claim him will have to carry him on the MLB roster.
Castillo, 23, slotted in as the Royals’ No. 24 prospect at Baseball America in their post-deadline reranking of the system. He made his big league debut with Toronto earlier in the season, appearing in nine games (two of them starts) and working to a 3.05 ERA with a 20-to-5 K/BB ratio in 20 2/3 innings. It’s been a strong season on the whole for Castillo, who notched a 3.10 ERA in Double-A before jumping to Triple-A and yielding six runs in 31 innings (1.74 ERA).
Castillo isn’t a power pitcher but has displayed solid walk and ground-ball rates while garnering praise for an above-average changeup and command of the strike zone. The Royals will take at least some of the remainder of the season to evaluate him as a potential rotation piece, though it’s always possible that he ultimately slots in as a multi-inning reliever or swing man. For now, he’ll join Zack Greinke, Brady Singer, Daniel Lynch and Kris Bubic on the starting staff.