The Royals have signed Brad Brach to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training, the team announced. Brach began the winter by exercising a $2.075MM player option to stay with the Mets, money still owed by New York. Last week the Mets designated Brach for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Jonathan Villar. He was later released after passing through waivers.
Brach struggled through a drop in velocity from 94.1 mph on his four-seamer in 2019 to just 90.3 mph in 2020. The fall in velocity coincided with a decline in four-seamer usage as Brach relied more heavily on an east-west moving cutter/slider, though he never found a groove during his 12 1/3 innings. He walked and stuck out an identical 24.1 percent of hitters, carrying over a command issue that plagued his half a season with the Cubs. He’d seemed to have figured it out over the back end of 2019 with the Mets, a 14 2/3 innings with a 3.68 ERA/2.67 FIP, 24.6 percent strikeout rate and sterling 4.9 percent walk rate. That’s a far better walk rate than Brach has been able to sustain elsewhere in his career, however, with an 8.0 percent walk rate being his absolute best mark over a full season.
Brach may find a bit of overcrowding in the Royals bullpen. Greg Holland, Josh Staumont, Scott Barlow, Jesse Hahn, Kyle Zimmer, and Jake Newberry can reasonable expect to find themselves on the roster given their 2020 performances. Jakob Junis could be bumped to the pen, and Wade Davis is in camp as a non-roster invitee. Tyler Zuber, Gabe Speier, and Richard Lovelady are also looking to secure spots, though they have options remaining