The Royals have inked right-hander Mike Mayers to a minor league contract, the team announced. The team didn’t specify whether the deal contains a Spring Training invitation, though that seems likely given his MLB experience.
Mayers, 31, has pitched in the majors in each of the last seven seasons. His first four years came in St. Louis, where he was primarily deployed as a depth reliever. Claimed off waivers by the Angels over the 2019-20 offseason, he’d take on a larger role in Orange County. Mayers made 29 appearances and posted a 2.10 ERA during the shortened 2020 campaign. He had another solid showing the next season, working to a 3.84 ERA across 75 frames.
From 2020-21, Mayers tossed 105 innings of 3.34 ERA ball. He struck out upwards of 30% of opponents and held batters to a .225/.294/.380 line over that stretch. The former third-rounder looked like an underrated bullpen find for the Halos, but his production dropped in 2022.
Mayers tossed 16 2/3 innings through the season’s first couple months, allowing a 5.40 ERA. His strikeout rate plummeted to 18.7% and the Angels designated him for assignment at the end of May. He went unclaimed on waivers and accepted an assignment to Triple-A Salt Lake. The organization stretched him out as a starter, letting him soak up 33 innings through eight appearances. While the results weren’t great, Mayers returned to the majors at year’s end. He picked up three starts down the stretch, working into the sixth inning on two occasions. After the season, the Angels waived him again and he qualified for minor league free agency.
With the bulk of his career experience having come as a reliever, Mayers is probably better suited for that role. The late-season rotation work at least raises the possibility of Kansas City giving him a crack as starting pitching depth. If Mayers makes the Royals roster in either capacity, he’ll have to remain in the majors or again be designated for assignment since he’s out of minor league option years.