Kansas City Royals – MLB Trade Rumors 2018-11-13T14:01:50Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom WordPress Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Why The Royals Probably Won't Trade Whit Merrfield]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=137144 2018-11-12T04:26:12Z 2018-11-12T04:26:12Z
  • Whit Merrifield is arguably the Royals’ biggest trade chip, though the team’s lack of interest in dealing him is indicative of GM Dayton Moore’s unique team-building process, Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star writes.  On paper, a player who turns 30 in January doesn’t have much long-term value to a Royals team that has 2021 as its internal start date to once again be competitive.  Moore, however, has spoken openly about how disappointing the 2018 season was for the Royals, and he has been hesitant to enter into a full rebuild.  As Mellinger puts it, “holding onto Merrifield serves several purposes simultaneously: projects hope and confidence to players and fans, helps maintain culture of professionalism in the clubhouse, creates the best possible team for 2019, provides time to see what might be needed in a few years, and retains the ability to trade a presumably still valuable asset next summer or winter.”
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Offseason Outlook: Kansas City Royals]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=136614 2018-11-11T23:13:46Z 2018-11-06T03:19:39Z MLBTR is publishing Offseason Outlooks for all 30 teams. Click here to read the other entries in this series.

    The Orioles are the only team in baseball that lost more games than the Royals in 2018, but the Kansas City organization has suggested it doesn’t plan to embark on a lengthy rebuild featuring multiple years of tanking. Significant improvement, however, remains a tall order for general manager Dayton Moore and his staff.

    Guaranteed Contracts

    Arbitration-Eligible Players (service time in parenthesis; projections via MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz)

    [Kansas City Royals depth chart | Kansas City Royals payroll]

    Free Agents

    The Royals lost an abysmal 104 games in 2018. While it was never expected that they’d contend for a division title, general manager Dayton Moore expressed open disappointment and frustration with his team’s noncompetitive nature — both in the days leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline and again, more emphatically, after the conclusion of the season. “I think when you create a mindset that we’re rebuilding, you somehow build in or make an excuse that’s it’s OK to lose baseball games,” said Moore when speaking to reporters in mid-October. “It’s not. … That’s our responsibility — to win games.”

    If Moore’s comments do indeed indicate that he’ll make a concerted effort to make the Royals a more competitive club in 2019, he could be walking a fine line. The Royals are reportedly aiming to cut payroll by as much as $35MM next season after spending at record levels, and that won’t leave Moore with a great deal of flexibility when pursuing upgrades. Much of the payroll cutting can be accomplished organically; the contracts of Hammel, Brandon Moss and Travis Wood are now all off the books, while 2018-19 free agents such as Kelvin Herrera, Mike Moustakas, Lucas Duda and Jon Jay were moved during the season — most with some degree of salary relief being included in the deal. The Royals, Moore explained in July, deliberately sought players who were MLB-ready or close to it (e.g. Brett Phillips, Jorge Lopez, Kelvin Gutierrez) — a further sign that ownership and management don’t want to see another prolonged stretch of futility.

    The Royals have also already cut ties with would-be arbitration-eligible players like Nate Karns and Brandon Maurer, further reducing their 2019 payroll projections. At present, between the six guaranteed deals referenced above, the three arb-eligibles remaining and another 14 pre-arbitration players to round out the 25-man roster, Kansas City projects to enter the season with a payroll just north of $90MM. As such, they’re already looking at a savings of roughly $31.5MM over their 2018 Opening Day payroll. That falls within the reported $30-35MM target range, but doesn’t leave for much in the way of free-agent pickups or added salary on the trade market.

    That’s not to say, of course, that the Royals are precluded from adding any pieces at all. Perhaps ownership recognizes that it’s simply not possible to add much to this roster, as currently constructed, and keep payroll in the $90MM range. Perhaps the front office will be permitted to apply any savings accrued in last year’s midseason trades toward the 2019 payroll. (The Royals, for instance, saved more than $4MM by trading Herrera to the Nationals in early June.) Kansas City has also habitually backloaded contracts during Moore’s time as GM — often utilizing mutual options with relatively notable buyouts as an accounting measure to effectively defer some of the guaranteed portion of the deal. Moustakas, Hammel, Moss, Wood, Mike Minor, Chris Young, Edinson Volquez, Joakim Soria and Kendrys Morales all had mutual options on their free-agent pacts with the Royals.

    It doesn’t seem reasonable to expect that the Royals will add much salary to the books in 2019, but if we see yet another offseason of somewhat creative spending out of Kauffman Stadium, there are a few obvious areas of upgrade — starting with the bullpen. Kansas City, at present, will have Peralta back in a late-inning role after he enjoyed a rebound year, to an extent. The former Brewers starter posted a solid 3.67 ERA and averaged better than a strikeout per inning but also walked 23 batters in 34 1/3 innings. Beyond him, Flynn and Tim Hill are options from the left side while Jesse Hahn, Kevin McCarthy, Burch Smith and Jorge Lopez are options from the right side. With Hahn, Lopez and Flynn all out of minor league options, they’ll need to make the roster in some capacity or be exposed to waivers.

    When a bullpen’s most established figure walked more than six batters per nine innings the season prior, there’s obviously plenty in the way of openings. It’d be a surprise to see the Royals spend on top-tier relief arms or even those in the second tier of free agents, but the spacious confines of Kauffman Stadium and the allure of guaranteed innings could help draw rebound candidates like David Phelps and Drew Storen (2017 Tommy John surgery) or AJ Ramos and Carson Smith (2018 shoulder surgery). Relievers coming off down seasons (e.g. Tyler Lyons, Justin Wilson) could make some sense, and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see a backloaded two-year pact for a solid but non-elite reliever coming off a quality season — someone in the Bud Norris vein, perhaps. There’s little reason for the Royals not to be active on the waiver wire and in offering minor league pacts with Spring Training invites, as well.

    In the rotation, things look to be more set. Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, Jakob Junis and Brad Keller (arguably the most successful pick in last year’s Rule 5 Draft) figure to have rotation spots more or less set in stone. Hahn, Lopez, Heath Fillmyer and Trevor Oaks are among the options in the fifth spot. That said, the back of the rotation does present the Royals with the opportunity to promise some innings to rebound candidate with some upside; Drew Pomeranz, Lance Lynn and Tyson Ross could all make some level of sense in that five spot.

    As for the more expensive names who are already penciled into rotation slots, it seems rather unlikely that the Royals would move them. Selling low on Duffy, a core piece who a season ago looked like a solid trade chip, would be difficult for the Royals, and it’s unlikely that they’d be able to accomplish that goal without absorbing some of the $46MM remaining on his deal. Financial help would be all the more required to move Kennedy, who has floundered through 52 starts and allowed 54 home runs through 273 1/3 innings over the past two seasons.

    Meanwhile, the lineup is perhaps a bit more set than some would expect. Salvador Perez is entrenched at catcher and unlikely to be traded despite the fact that there’d be interest. Whit Merrifield has quietly emerged as one of the better all-around players in the American League (9.4 rWAR, 8.1 fWAR over the past two seasons), while his double-play partner, Adalberto Mondesi, hit .276/.306/.498 with 14 homers and 32 steals in just 75 games last year. Mondesi badly needs to improve his plate discipline (3.8 percent walk rate, 37.1 percent chase rate, 18.2 percent swinging-strike rate), but he clearly has some pop and isn’t lacking in baserunning or defensive chops. At first base, Ryan O’Hearn emerged late in the season and bludgeoned right-handed pitching at a .313/.403/.705 clip. Some regression is coming, but he could be paired with an affordable righty free-agent pickup late in the season to form a platoon. Hunter Dozier and Cheslor Cuthbert remain on hand as internal options for that role, but neither has hit in the Majors to date — even in favorable platoon matchups.

    Looking to the outfield, Gordon is assured of his spot in left field. While his four-year, $72MM contract has been a flop, Gordon remains a premium defender in left and had his best year at the plate since 2015 this past season. Center field isn’t exactly a certainty, but the organization likely wants to get a further look at rocket-armed Brett Phillips, who opened eyes with three highlight-reel outfield assists in 33 games but hit just .188/.252/.313 in 123 PAs after being acquired for Moustakas. The former top 100 prospect is strikeout-prone but nonetheless brings an exciting skill-set to the outfield. Jorge Bonifacio should see some time in right field, perhaps in a split with left-handed-hitting Brian Goodwin, who can handle all three outfield spots. If that group proves unable to cut it, Merrifield has proven versatile enough to handle some time in the outfield and could shift off second base if prospect Nicky Lopez hits his way to the big leagues.

    There’s room for Kansas City to add some depth in the outfield, but they have enough relatively young options that it probably won’t be deemed a priority. Still, given the manner in which some outfielders have been squeezed out in free agency in recent offseasons, if there’s an intriguing veteran available on a one-year deal or on a non-roster invite in February or early March, the Royals could act opportunistically (as they did with Jon Jay last winter).

    Beyond a platoon partner for O’Hearn at first base and perhaps a backup to Perez at catcher — Cam Gallagher has not hit much, and depth is thin beyond him — third base is the most apparent spot for the Royals to upgrade. Cuthbert and Dozier, the top internal options, simply have not delivered at the plate in the Majors. Cuthbert has tallied 830 PAs with just a .252/.303/.378 slash to show for his efforts, while Dozier has batted .228/.279/.388 in 409 PAs.

    Perhaps it’s too much to expect the same result for a second consecutive season, but the Royals once again seem like a logical landing spot for Moustakas in free agency. With no qualifying offer attached to him this time around and a better defensive showing with his 2016 ACL surgery further behind him, it seems likely that Moose will land a multi-year deal this time around. It’d be easy enough to backload that deal to go easy on the ’19 payroll, especially considering the fact that Gordon’s deal will come off the books in the 2019-20 offseason. If not Moustakas, veterans like Logan Forsythe, Josh Harrison and Asdrubal Cabrera could be options. If the Royals can look beyond his off-the-field issues, perhaps Jung Ho Kang could fit there on a short-term deal as well.

    Regardless of the moves made by the Kansas City front office this winter, it’s difficult to see the Royals contending in 2019. Moore has plainly stated that his top priority is to improve the team’s farm system, but he’s coupled that with simultaneous desire to win more games. It’s a dichotomous pair of goals, and in recent baseball history, most teams (particularly, those with lesser resources) have focused on one or the other — either being content to accept some losing years in the short term in exchange for a prolonged run of success or showing a willingness to mortgage some of the future for a chance at immediate glory. The Royals, though, appear as though they’ll strive for some incremental improvements without detracting from the minor league ranks. Even though it’s hard to envision the strategy leading to a 2019 winner, despite a weak division, expect the Royals to add some second- and third-tier free agents to the margins of the roster as they aim to put a miserable 104-loss season behind them.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Royals Outright Brandon Maurer, Paulo Orlando, Ramon Torres]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=136317 2018-11-02T18:11:41Z 2018-11-02T17:56:47Z The Royals announced Friday that right-hander Brandon Maurer, outfielder Paulo Orlando and infielder Ramon Torres all cleared outright waivers. Maurer has already rejected his outright assignment in favor of free agency, while both Orlando and Torres will become minor league free agents tomorrow. In a series of corresponding moves, Kansas City activated Jorge Soler, Cheslor Cuthbert and Jesse Hahn from the 60-day disabled list. The Royals’ 40-man roster sits at 37 players after these moves.

    None of the 40-man subtractions come as much of a surprise. Maurer has spent parts of the past two season in the Kansas City bullpen but struggled to catastrophic levels, yielding 45 earned runs, 36 walks and 11 home runs in just 51 1/3 innings pitched. Though he’s shown the ability to miss bats, he’s far too hittable and was projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn as much as $3.1MM in arbitration this winter.

    Orlando, 33, hit just .167/.194/.200 in 93 plate appearances with Kansas City this year and has never replicated the BABIP-fueled 2016 season he enjoyed when he hit .302/.329/.405. Orlando has drawn walks at a 2.4 percent clip in his career, one of the lowest marks in all of baseball, and is a career .263/.289/.384 hitter. He brings his share of speed to the table, though that hasn’t been enough to outweigh his otherwise lackluster offensive output.

    Torres, 25, has seen action in each of the past two seasons but mustered a timid .225/.269/.265 slash in that time. His .230/.279/.343 showing in Triple-A this season gave little reason for optimism, though at the very least he does offer some versatility with the glove, having experience at second base, shortstop and third base.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Nate Karns Elects Free Agency]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=135993 2018-10-31T21:00:13Z 2018-10-31T21:00:13Z The Royals announced that right-hander Nate Karns has rejected an outright assignment to Triple-A Omaha after clearing waivers. He’ll elect free agency instead and can now sign with any team.

    Karns, 31 next month, didn’t make it back to the mound in 2018 after seeing his 2017 season cut short by surgery to alleviate throacic outlet syndrome. The righty has shown promise as a potential back-end starter at times in the Majors, including a 2015 campaign in which he notched a 3.67 ERA with 8.9 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9 in 147 innings with the Rays. Those 147 frames stand out as a career-high in the Majors for Karns, though, and while he gave Kansas City a respectable 4.17 ERA in 45 1/3 innings in 2017, his last time on a big league mound was nearly 18 months ago (May 19, 2017).

    The Royals agreed to pay Karns a $1.375MM salary for the 2018 season last winter, avoiding arbitration in his first offseason of eligibility. But he’d have been arb-eligible for a second time this winter and would’ve received that same sum while carrying considerably more uncertainty as pertains to his health.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cubs Exercise Jose Quintana’s Option, Claim Jerry Vasto From Royals]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=135989 2018-10-31T20:51:15Z 2018-10-31T20:18:28Z The Cubs announced Wednesday that they’ve exercised their $10.5MM club option over left-hander Jose Quintana and claimed left-handed reliever Jerry Vasto off waivers from the Royals organization. It’s the first of two options that the Cubs hold on Quintana, who’ll turn 30 in January. Chicago also has an $11.5MM option on the lefty for the 2020 season.

    While Quintana may not have performed at quite the level the Cubs had hoped, picking up his option was a flat no-brainer, as even in a “down” season (by his standards), he turned in 174 1/3 innings of 4.03 ERA ball with 8.2 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and 1.29 HR/9 with a 43.2 percent ground-ball rate. Durable and largely consistent year over year, Quintana took the ball on 32 occasion for the Cubs, marking his sixth consecutive season with 32 or more games started. Even if he doesn’t return to the peak form he showed with the White Sox, having Quintana on a one-year deal with an affordable club option for the 2020 season is still quite a nice value for the Cubs.

    Vasto, 26, made his MLB debut with the Rockies in 2018 but appeared in just one game and tossed only two-thirds of an inning before being traded to Kansas City in exchange for backup catcher Drew Butera. Vasto was hit hard in his first season of Triple-A duty in 2017 but has turned in considerably more promising results with Colorado’s top affiliate in 2018: a 3.16 ERA, 10.7 K/9, 4.4 BB/9, 0.73 HR/9 and a 43.5 percent ground-ball rate in 37 innings. The southpaw tossed just one scoreless inning with Kansas City’s Triple-A club before joining the Major League bullpen, where he allowed one earned run with three strikeouts and one walk in 3 2/3 innings of work.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Royals Agree To New Deal With Wily Peralta]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=135932 2018-10-31T18:33:51Z 2018-10-31T17:53:02Z The Royals have struck a “reworked” deal with righty Wily Peralta, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). He had been controllable pursuant to a $3MM club option.

    This new deal seems to tweak things only slightly, perhaps simply as a means of delaying part of Peralta’s 2019 salary obligation. He’ll now take home $2.25MM for the season to come, per the report. In 2020, the deal calls for a $7MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout.

    In addition to adding a bit of extra guaranteed money, Peralta can now earn a bit more if he remains in the closer’s role for the Royals. The deal will provide him another million dollars if he finishes 55 games, per MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan (via Twitter).

    Peralta, 29, ended up sliding into the ninth inning in K.C. after joining the organization on a minors deal and opening the year at Triple-A. In his 34 1/3 MLB frames, he worked to a 3.67 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and ended up recording 14 saves.

    That said, Peralta also allowed a disconcerting number of walks — just over six per nine innings, in fact. The former Brewers starter did throw his four- and two-seam fastballs as hard as ever before, averaging over 96 mph on each, and reached a double-digit swinging-strike rate (an even 10.0%) for the first time.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Royals Decline Jason Hammel’s Option]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=135825 2018-10-30T23:38:11Z 2018-10-30T20:30:30Z The Royals announced that they’ve declined their half of right-hander Jason Hammel’s mutual option, thereby making him a free agent. Hammel will receive a $2MM buyout rather than a $12MM salary for the 2019 season and will hit the open market in search of a new club.

    [Related: Updated Kansas City Royals depth chart and payroll outlook]

    The 36-year-old Hammel’s two-year pact with Kansas City proved to be a sizable misstep for the organization, as the veteran righty limped to a 5.29 ERA in 180 1/3 innings in 2017 before turning in a 6.09 ERA in 127 frames in 2018. Hammel lost his rotation spot in Kansas City this season and finished the year in long relief for a Royals club that finished last in the American League Central.

    Prior to his time in Kansas City, though, Hammel enjoyed a solid three-year run with the Athletics and Cubs. From 2014-16, he tallied 513 2/3 innings of 3.68 ERA ball, averaging 8.3 strikeouts and 2.4 walks per nine innings pitched. He saw his strikeout rate deteriorate with the Royals, though, and his ability to strand runners plummeted from roughly league-average territory to one of the worst in baseball with men on base. Those struggles seem likely to make it difficult for his camp to find a guaranteed role on a staff in 2019, but he’ll presumably still be viewed as a low-cost depth option by a number of teams.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Moore On Royals’ Offseason, Future Outlook]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=135019 2018-10-19T01:26:51Z 2018-10-19T01:26:28Z The Royals’ rebuild won’t be a lengthy endeavor if general manager Dayton Moore has his way. The veteran front office exec addressed the media today and covered a number of offseason-related topics (links via Sam McDowell of the Kansas City Star and Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com), making clear that the Royals don’t plan to tank in an effort to improve their farm system.

    “I think when you create a mindset that we’re rebuilding, you somehow build in or make an excuse that’s it’s OK to lose baseball games,” said Moore. “It’s not. … That’s our responsibility — to win games.”

    That said, Moore also emphasized that restoring his minor league system to its once-elite levels is the team’s top priority. Several years of picking at the back end of the first round and trades for some veteran players (e.g. Ben Zobrist, Johnny Cueto) have contributed to a depleted Kansas City farm system. The balance of striving for continually increased levels of competition while also seeking to bolster the farm won’t be easy to strike, though, especially not with so many teams throughout the league aggressively gunning for one extreme end of the spectrum or the other.

    The Royals are reportedly looking to cut payroll by as much as $30-35MM from their recent record levels of spending, leaving little in the way of budget room for free agents. Much of that payroll paring will be organic, it should be noted. The Royals already saved money by during the 2018 season by shipping out impending free agents like Kelvin HerreraMike MoustakasJon JayLucas Duda and Drew Butera. In 2018, Kansas City was also on the hook for all of Travis Wood’s salary despite having traded him to the Padres in 2017, plus part of their prior obligations to the also-traded Joakim Soria and Brandon Moss.

    At present, Jason Martinez of Roster Resource and MLBTR projects the Royals at $90.325MM on the books for the 2018 season, including arbitration projections from MLBTR’s Matt Swartz and also including pre-arb players. The Royals seem likely to non-tender Brandon Maurer ($3.1MM projection) and could conceivably cut loose any of Nate Karns ($1.375MM projection), Cheslor Cuthbert ($1.1MM projection), Brian Flynn ($1MM projection) or Jesse Hahn ($1.7MM projection). Jettisoning that whole group would result in an estimated $8.275MM worth of salary off the books, which could create some flexibility to add roster help while still remaining in their reported target range of $85-90MM.

    If there’s an area the Royals will add, be it via free agency or via trade, it seems likely to be the bullpen — an area in which Moore bluntly said his team “need[s] better options.” Kansas City relievers posted a disastrous 5.04 ERA on the season as a whole, adding in the lowest K/9 mark of any big league bullpen (7.31), the sixth-highest BB/9 (4.15) and the sixth-highest HR/9 (1.28).

    [Related: Kansas City Royals depth chart]

    As for the lineup, Moore said he doesn’t expect much turnover, as the team is “prepared to go forward” with in-house options for the most part. To some extent, that’s understandable. Catcher Salvador Perez, upstart shortstop Adalberto Mondesi and second baseman Whit Merrifield are all quality options at their positions. Ryan O’Hearn obliterated right-handed pitching in his late-season promotion and could be paired with Hunter Dozier in a first-base platoon. Alex Gordon rebounded to some degree and is locked into left field with a $20MM salary. The Royals will want to get looks at Brett Phillips, Brian Goodwin and Jorge Bonifacio in the outfield, and Jorge Soler hit well when healthy in 2018.

    On the whole, that doesn’t paint an especially promising outlook, though Moore expressed confidence in the manner in which his team finished. Of course, much of the team’s 20-14 record in its final 34 games looks attributable to multiple series against lackluster Twins and Tigers clubs, plus a series against the Orioles and another against the White Sox. It’ll be up to a large group of unproven players to deliver on Moore’s show of faith. If the Royals are to somehow achieve the goal of simultaneously improving on the field and in the farm system, they’ll need numerous players to step forward in the same manner that Mondesi did in 2018, as Moore’s comments don’t indicate that there’s much hope for outside help on the horizon.

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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Ned Yost Not Expected To Manage Royals Beyond 2019]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=134068 2018-10-04T18:46:05Z 2018-10-04T18:46:05Z
  • “The strong belief is that” 2019 is Ned Yost’s last year as manager of the Royals.  Yost hinted at such a timeline near the end of the 2017 campaign, and his recently-announced contract extension only covered the 2019 season.

    [SOURCE LINK]
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Assistant GM Scott Sharp Linked To Giants' GM Job]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=133809 2018-10-01T04:15:39Z 2018-10-01T04:15:39Z
  • Royals assistant GM Scott Sharp, Brewers assistant GM Matt Arnold, and Blue Jays VP of baseball operations Ben Cherington have all been linked to the Giants’ general manager position, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes.  Going into more detail on Cherington, Cafardo believes Cherington’s use of both traditional scouting and modern analytics makes him an ideal all-around candidate for both the Giants and Mets jobs, as Cherington is reportedly also under consideration in New York.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Salvador Perez To Undergo Thumb Surgery]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=133801 2018-10-01T03:37:59Z 2018-10-01T03:37:59Z
  • Salvador Perez will undergo surgery this week to repair ligament damage in his thumb, as per an announcement from the Royals (Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star was among those to report the news).  Perez said he has been playing through the injury for the last six weeks, and that while he’ll face some rehab time, it won’t keep him from being ready for Spring Training.  “Twelve weeks [off], then start to hit,” Perez said of his immediate timeline.  While Perez hit 27 homers this season, he contributed only a .235/.274/.439 overall batting line in 544 plate appearances, as his bad thumb and a Grade 2 MCL tear suffered in March likely kept him from operating at close to 100 percent all year.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Ned Yost To Manage Royals In 2019]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=133748 2018-09-30T18:28:47Z 2018-09-30T17:35:48Z The Royals and manager Ned Yost have agreed to a one-year extension, Jon Morosi of MLB Network tweets. The deal is for next season, which will be Yost’s 10th as the Royals’ skipper.

    At 58-103, the Royals have already clinched the majors’ second-worst record, but it’s hard to blame that on Yost. The rebuilding club is low on talent, after all, and figures to be in for another lean year next season, when it’s slated to reduce its payroll. That’s apparently OK with Yost, who has the full confidence of general manager Dayton Moore.

    “We definitely want him back,” Moore said in April, adding that Yost has earned the right to manage the club for as long as he wants.

    While the Royals have gone an underwhelming 687-735 under Yost, who took the reins in 2010, they’ve been resoundingly successful at times during his tenure. The Yost-led team won back-to-back American League pennants from 2014-15 and broke a 30-year championship drought in the latter of those seasons. Kansas City has also posted records of .500 or better in two other seasons during Yost’s reign.

    Prior to joining the Royals, Yost managed Milwaukee from 2003-08, a span in which the Brewers logged a 457-502 record.

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    Jason Martinez <![CDATA[Past, Present & Future: American League Closer Turnover]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=133145 2018-09-30T00:11:36Z 2018-09-25T17:01:58Z By the end of the 2017 season, the list of pitchers closing out games for their respective teams included Matt Belisle, Alex Claudio, Juan Minaya and Mike Minor. Three of them were without a career save coming into the season—Belisle had five in 13 MLB seasons—and none had been expected to fill a significant late-inning bullpen role. By way of injuries, trades or ineffectiveness from those ahead of them on the depth chart, they were given a chance to record the final out in a close win and proved themselves capable.

    Things haven’t changed much this year. Raise your hand if you thought Wily Peralta would have one save in 2018. He has 13! Of the 15 American League teams, only four currently have a closer situation that mirrors what they had on Opening Day. When it comes to closers, uncertainty is the only certainty. And that’s why Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman are Hall of Famers and the relief pitchers who will join them in Cooperstown in the future are few and far between.

    Here’s a look back at each American League team’s closer situation on Opening Day versus where they are now and where they will be as they head into the offseason. (Click HERE to view the National League.)

    [Related: MLB closer depth chart at Roster Resource]

    Baltimore Orioles Orioles Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Committee — Brad Brach, Darren O’Day, Mychal Givens
    September 2018: Mychal Givens

    Future Outlook: Brach got the majority of the committee’s save chances prior to Zach Britton reclaiming the job shortly after returning from the disabled list in late June. Soon after, Givens was the last man standing following a series of July trades (Brach to the Braves; Britton to the Yankees). O’Day, meanwhile, suffered a season-ending hamstring surgery and was later traded to Atlanta in a separate deal.

    A valuable setup man for most of the past three seasons, Givens has done a fine job since taking over ninth-inning duties. In his last 19 appearances, he has a 2.18 ERA and eight saves in 10 chances. With so many holes to fill on the roster, upgrading at the closer position is probably low on the Orioles’ priority list. Givens, therefore, likely enters 2019 with the job — if he isn’t traded himself this offseason as the O’s continue their rebuilding efforts.

    Boston Red Sox Red Sox Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Craig Kimbrel
    September 2018: Craig Kimbrel

    Future Outlook: Kimbrel, who recently became the fourth pitcher in MLB history to record at least 40 saves in five different seasons, has been a huge part of Boston’s historic season. As a free agent following the 2018 campaign, the 30-year-old will command a contract that rivals the highest-paid relievers in the game. Can the Red Sox afford to let him walk? Just in case he does, they’ll have to plan accordingly.

    With Joe Kelly also set to become a free agent, Matt Barnes is the logical choice to inherit the closer’s gig. He’s earned the opportunity with a 3.28 ERA and 25 holds while serving as the primary setup man on the best team in baseball. The 28-year-old also has an impressive 13.9 K/9 in 60.1 innings of work, an increase from 10.7 K/9 in ’17 and 9.6 K/9 in ’16. The only question is whether a team capable of winning over 100 games will entrust the role to someone with two career saves. If Kimbrel signs elsewhere, it seems likely that the Sox would pursue alternatives in free agency and/or trades.

    Chicago White Sox White Sox Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Joakim Soria
    September 2018: Committee — Nate Jones, Jace Fry, Minaya, etc.

    Future Outlook: Soria was as good as he’d been in years, posting a 2.56 ERA with 16 saves and 11.4 K/9 in 40 appearances. The White Sox cashed in by sending him to the Brewers for two pitching prospects in late July. Since then, they’ve handed off the closer’s job to a committee that included just about any relief pitcher on their active roster—seven different pitchers have recorded saves since the Soria trade.

    The next step for the rebuilding White Sox is to put together a roster that can, at the very least, be a .500 team and potential playoff contender. Having a reliable closer would be an important part of that plan. Jones looks the part, but he’s missed most of the last two seasons recovering from elbow surgery and still might not be ready to take on the workload of a primary closer. A healthy Zack Burdi, the team’s first-round draft pick in 2016 and one time “closer of the future,” could also be in the mix at some point, though he spent 2018 recovering from Tommy John surgery. They’ll likely play it safe, however, and add at least one veteran with closing experience this offseason.

    Cleveland Indians | Indians Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Cody Allen
    September 2018: Co-Closers – Allen and Brad Hand

    Future Outlook: Allen has a lot of mileage on his arm, averaging 71 relief appearances per season since 2013, and it’s showed at times during the current season. With Andrew Miller on the disabled list and Allen’s ERA creeping up near 5.00, the Indians’ acquisition of Brad Hand from the Padres on July 19th was a no-brainer.

    Not only has it helped them down the stretch—Hand has a 2.45 ERA and eight saves while Allen has 10 consecutive scoreless appearances—it also gives the Indians a very good closer option for 2019. Allen and Miller are both headed for free agency while the 28-year-old Hand is under contract through 2021. The job should be his moving forward.

    Detroit Tigers Tigers Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Shane Greene
    September 2018: Shane Greene

    Future Outlook: With a 5.20 ERA and six blown saves in 37 chances, Greene is probably lucky to have held on to the job for the entire season. But on a rebuilding Tigers team, who is going to close out games for them is the least of their worries. With that said, Greene probably fits best as a setup man. Even if they don’t upgrade this offseason, All-Star Joe Jimenez (11.2 K/9, 22 holds, 3 saves, 2.88 FIP) could supplant Greene in 2019.

    Houston Astros Astros Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Co-Closers – Chris Devenski and Ken Giles
    September 2018: Roberto Osuna

    Future Outlook: Despite a drop in strikeout rate—8.0 K/9 in ’18; 11.7 K/9 in ’17—Osuna has continued to perform at a high level amid abuse allegations that led to a 75-game suspension under MLB’s domestic abuse policy. The Astros still decided to acquire him in a trade with the Jays despite the ongoing investigation.

    Barring any struggles during the team’s playoff run — he’s postseason eligible in spite of that suspension — or any further off-the-field troubles, the 23-year-old Osuna seems likely to enter 2019 as the Astros’ closer. He’s under club control through the 2020 season.

    Kansas City Royals Royals Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Kelvin Herrera
    September 2018: Wily Peralta

    Future Outlook: Soon after Herrera was traded to Washington in mid-June, Peralta emerged from the closer committee to become one of the unlikeliest ninth-inning success stories of 2018. It hasn’t always been pretty, but the 29-year-old has 13 saves in 13 chances and a 9.5 K/9 rate.

    After getting booted from the Brewers’ rotation last May, he had a disastrous 11-appearance stint as a relief pitcher (17 1/3 innings, 23 ER, 28 H, 15 BB) before getting designated for assignment in late July. He signed a Major League deal with Kansas City this offseason, only to be designated for assignment again and outrighted to Triple-A. He returned to the Majors one day before the Herrera trade and picked up his first MLB save eight days later.

    Peralta has a $3MM club option in 2019, which could very well be exercised. Even if it’s not, he’s remain under team control for one more season via arbitration. While he’s been better than anyone could’ve anticipated in his current role, his 22 walks in 31 1/3 innings serve as a red flag that will likely keep the Royals from locking him into the job next season without some form of competition.

    Los Angeles Angels Angels Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Keynan Middleton
    September 2018: Ty Buttrey

    Future Outlook: Blake Parker, who finished 2017 as the closer, picked up the team’s first save of 2018 after finishing last season in the role. But it was Middleton who got the call for the next six save chances, all successful, making it clear that he was manager Mike Scioscia’s preferred choice in the ninth inning. A few weeks later, however, Middleton had undergone season-ending Tommy John surgery and it was back to the drawing board for the Angels.

    Parker got the majority of save chances with Middleton out. And as was the case in 2017, he got the job done with a 3.21 ERA and 13 saves in 16 chances from May 14th—the day after Middleton’s last game— through September 3rd. But Buttrey, acquired from the Red Sox in the July deal for Ian Kinsler, is getting a chance to show what he can do as of late. In six appearances from September 7th through September 18th, the 25-year-old tossed seven scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts and four saves. He has failed to convert his last two save chances, though.

    Regardless, there probably wasn’t enough time for Buttrey to seal the job for 2019. He will be a candidate alongside Parker, though, unless the Angels acquire a closer this offseason.

    Minnesota Twins Twins Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Fernando Rodney
    September 2018: Trevor Hildenberger

    Future Outlook: After saving 25 games and solidifying the ninth inning for Minnesota over the first four months of the season, Rodney was traded to Oakland in AugustRyan Pressly, who would’ve been the logical choice to succeed him, was traded to Houston in late July. A closer committee appeared likely, but Hildenberger has been the go-to guy with seven saves in eight chances since Rodney’s departure. Taylor Rogers, while serving mostly in a setup role, has not allowed a run over his last 23 2/3 innings while logging two saves and 11 holds over that span.

    Between Hildenberger, Rogers, Addison Reed and Trevor May, who has five walks and 31 strikeouts in 23 innings in his first season since Tommy John surgery, the Twins have some decent late-inning options for 2019. It’s probably not enough to keep them away from the offseason closer’s market, though.

    New York Yankees Yankees Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Aroldis Chapman
    September 2018: Co-Closers – Zach Britton and Dellin Betances

    Future Outlook: Chapman might not have enough time to reclaim the closer’s job before the end of the regular season—he returned from the disabled list last Wednesday—or even the playoffs for that matter. But there’s no reason to think a change is on the horizon in 2019. The 30-year-old lefty, who is 31-for-33 in save opportunities and is striking out 16.1 batters per nine innings, will be entering year three of a five-year, $85MM contract.

    Oakland Athletics Athletics Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Blake Treinen
    September 2018: Blake Treinen

    Future Outlook: Treinen has been one of the breakout stars in 2018, saving 37 games while posting an 0.80 ERA and striking out 11.1 batters per nine innings for a playoff-bound A’s team. The 30-year-old is still under team control for two more seasons, although he’s in line for a significant raise from the $2.15MM he made in ’18. Barring injury, there’s no doubt that he’ll retain the job in 2019.

    Seattle Mariners Mariners Depth Chart 

    Opening Day 2018: Edwin Diaz 
    September 2018: Edwin Diaz

    Future Outlook: No other closer, arguably, has contributed more to his team’s success than the 24-year-old Diaz, who has 14 more saves (56) than any other pitcher in baseball and 13 more save chances (60). The Mariners play a lot of close ballgames—they are 36-21 in one-run games—and Diaz rarely gives his opponent a chance in the ninth inning. He has held his opponent scoreless in 59 of his 71 appearances and hitless in 44. He also has 41 multi-strikeout games.

    The 24-year-old is going to get paid once he reaches arbitration, although he could fall just short during the upcoming offseason. The Super Two cutoff has not fallen under 2.122 (two years, 122 days) since 2009. Diaz will be one day shy of that total.

    Tampa Bay Rays Rays Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Alex Colome
    September 2018: Co-Closers – Sergio Romo/Jose Alvarado

    Future Outlook: When Colome was traded to Seattle on May 25th, the Rays were two games under .500 and 10 games out in the division. It’s not clear whether they were throwing in the towel or whether they just had enough confidence in Romo, who had 84 career saves coming into the season, and the remaining group of young arms. In any case, it’s worked out just fine.

    Since the trade, the Rays are 64-44 with Romo as the primary closer (3.38 ERA, 23-for-28  in save chances) and Alvarado, a 23-year-old lefty, also playing an integral role (1.98 ERA, 7 saves). Not that you can count on the Rays to do anything conventional like name a closer prior to the season or at any point during the regular season, but Alvarez and the hard-throwing Diego Castillo would be the leading in-house candidates if they did. Tampa Bay could also look to bring Romo back into the fold.

    Texas Rangers Rangers Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Keone Kela
    September 2018: Jose Leclerc

    Future Outlook: No relief pitcher has boosted their value more in the second half of the season than Leclerc, who spent the first four months in a setup role. Once Kela was traded to the Pirates on July 31st, it was the 24-year-old Leclerc’s chance to shine. It’s hard to imagine a more convincing way to show that he wouldn’t be relinquishing the job anytime soon.

    Aside from converting each of his 11 save opportunities, Leclerc has allowed just two hits and six walks over 17 scoreless innings while striking out 28. The Rangers will look to bolster their bullpen this offseason, but finding a new closer isn’t likely to be on the agenda. Leclerc is controlled through 2022.

    Toronto Blue Jays Blue Jays Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Roberto Osuna
    September 2018: Ken Giles

    Future Outlook: Despite being the primary closer on the World Champion Astros, it was clear  that Giles was not trusted with the game on the line. The trade to Toronto in late July gave the 28-year-old a chance to re-establish himself, out of the spotlight, as a reliable late-inning reliever. So far, so good.

    After a few shaky appearances to begin his Blue Jays tenure, Giles has settled into the closer’s role with 1.29 ERA over his past 15 appearances with 12 saves in 12 chances. It might not be enough to prevent the Jays from pursuing another option this winter, but Giles should at least be in the mix.

    POTENTIAL FREE-AGENT CLOSER OPTIONS
    Nate Jones (if $4.65MM club option is declined)
    Joe Kelly
    Craig Kimbrel
    Ryan Madson
    Andrew Miller
    Fernando Rodney (if $4.25MM club option is declined)
    Sergio Romo
    Joakim Soria (if $10MM mutual option is declined)
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Royals Reportedly Set For Payroll Reduction In 2019]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=133205 2018-09-21T17:33:36Z 2018-09-21T17:04:24Z The Royals entered the 2018 season with a payroll of roughly $122MM — their fourth straight season with a $100MM-plus payroll — but Fancred’s Jon Heyman writes in his latest notes column that the team is expected to pare that figure back by as much as $30-35MM for the 2019 campaign.

    Scaling back the payroll isn’t exactly a shock for a club that has been working to rebuild its farm system, though the cut described by Heyman would be a fairly substantial downturn in on-field spending. Unlike the Marlins, though, who slashed payroll to similar levels this past offseason, the Royals won’t have to orchestrate any type of fire sale to do so. They already saved money by trading impending free agents like Kelvin Herrera, Mike Moustakas and Jon Jay prior to the non-waiver trade deadline (plus Lucas Duda and Drew Butera in August). The Royals are also paying Travis Wood, Joakim Soria and Brandon Moss in 2018 as part of previous trades to shed each of those contracts; all of those obligations will be off the books come 2019.

    [Related: Kansas City Royals depth chart]

    After all those subtractions, the Royals have about $69.5MM on the books for the 2019 season by way of guaranteed contracts for Alex Gordon, Ian Kennedy, Danny Duffy, Salvador Perez and Jorge Soler. They’ll have several arbitration cases in the form of Brandon Maurer, Nate Karns, Brian Flynn, Cheslor Cuthbert, Jesse Hahn and Paulo Orlando, though some (if not most) of that group could be non-tendered this winter.

    It’s unlikely that the Kansas City front office will be able to find a taker for any of the team’s most onerous financial commitments (Kennedy, Gordon), and it seems equally unlikely that the team would sell low on Duffy or Perez coming off lackluster seasons. Perez’s power numbers remain quite strong, but he’s turned in a career-worst .270 OBP to date — third worst among qualified MLB hitters. Duffy, meanwhile, posted a 4.88 ERA through 155 innings in a season that was marred by shoulder issues.

    The Royals could organically scale back payroll by as much as $50MM, though it seems reasonable to expect that they’ll invest some funds in second- and third-tier free-agent pickups. They’re not likely to contend next season even with the rampant mediocrity that permeates the AL Central, but GM Dayton Moore has been candid about his desire to improve the on-field product sooner rather than later. To that end, Moore and his staff prioritized near-MLB assets in many of their trades over the past calendar year, landing players like Brett Phillips, Jorge Lopez, Heath Fillmyer, Trevor Oaks and Jerry Vasto. The Royals were also aggressive in the Rule 5 Draft (Brad Keller, Burch Smith) and picked up cast-offs with MLB experience from other organizations (Brian Goodwin, Ben Lively) over the summer.

    Adding some low-cost veterans on short-term deals could help to field a more competitive product than the one the Royals trotted out for much of 2018 — and a full season of Adalberto Mondesi won’t hurt, either. Such investments could also present the opportunity to further stock the farm with some upper-level talent prior to the 2019 non-waiver deadline (as was the case with last winter’s Moustakas reunion, which ultimately netted both Phillips and Lopez).

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Mondesi, O'Hearn Impressing Royals]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=133184 2018-09-21T02:39:07Z 2018-09-21T02:39:07Z
  • Both Adalberto Mondesi and Ryan O’Hearn have been impressing with the Royals lately, Jesse Newell of the Kansas City Star writes. Mondesi, in particular, is the focus of the column, with manager Ned Yost and quality control coach Pedro Grifol (via Yost) weighing in on the improvements in the second-generation infielder’s improvements. “I just think he’s really, really talented,” Yost said of Mondesi, noting that the organization is pleased and feels he’s improved in “all phases of his game.” Mondesi has indeed been a bright spot in a bleak Kansas City season — MLBTR’s Jeff Todd just recently listed him as the primary silver lining for the Royals — as he’s shown a promising blend of speed, power and defense. Mondesi, who homered again tonight, is now hitting .290/.316/.496 with 11 homers, 26 steals and quality defensive marks at both shortstop (+2 DRS, +2 UZR) and second base (+3 DRS, +1.7 UZR). O’Hearn may not have garnered as much attention, but the 25-year-old first baseman is sporting a ridiculous .272/.372/.632 slash and 11 homers through his first 145 MLB plate appearances (albeit while showing some enormous platoon splits in that small sample).
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