The Royals agreed to a $1 million deal with Wilson Betemit which will keep him in Kansas City for 2011 and also reached agreement with catcher Brayan Pena on a one year $660,000 deal. They also offered contracts to Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Kyle Davies, Luke Hochevar and Robinson Tejeda.
Josh Fields, part of the Mark Teahen trade last year, was not tendered a contract and becomes a free agent.
No big surprises, but there is some reading of the tea leaves in the development.
When I looked at the possible construction of the Royals 40 man roster, I figured Fields would be the odd man out, especially if the Royals agreed to terms with Betemit who performed like the prospect he once was after signing a minor league deal in 2010.
Kyle Davies, subject of non-tender questions, looks to live another day. For now.
Pena will be the primary catcher to open the season with Luke May backing up while Jason Kendall returns from rotator cuff surgery. His slated return could be June in his second and final year with the Royals. Pena hit .253/.306/.335/.641 last season in 174 plate appearances after spending most of the first four months on the bench behind Kendall and starting slowly. He assumed the majority of the catching once Kendall went on the DL.
Butler, Gordon, Hochevar and Tejeda were no-brainer keepers. Tejeda is the subject of some trade talk, though there hasn’t been much rumbling out there about that besides Bob Dutton’s mention in Royals notes in the Kansas City Star the other day.
With reported interest in Kevin Millwood, offering Davies arbitration could signal that those rumors are fizzling out, or the Royals could still cut ties with Davies. There’s also the possibility that the Royals are keeping a starter around in case a Zack Greinke trade does end up going down.
Or, perhaps, they really feel Davies has a chance to figure it out for once.
The Royals have an open roster spot after dispatching Fields. Perhaps it’s time for the inevitable call to Jeff Francoeur?
The arbitration process begins January 5 and will finalize by February 21. I’d expect all arbitration decisions to be finished by then though.