It was a big day for Royals transactions today. This morning, the Royals announced the signing of Jeremy Guthrie to a three-year $25 million contract that keeps him in Kansas City through the 2015 season.
But the big task of the day was setting up a 40 man roster that protected players from the Rule 5 draft.
Mike Montgomery, John Lamb, Donnie Joseph, Chris Dwyer, Justin Marks and Juan Gutierrez were all added to the 40 man roster and are not subject to selection in the December 6th Rule 5 draft. All are pitchers, with Gutierrez being the lone right-hander. We talked briefly about each of these players this morning. Montgomery and Lamb aren’t surprises, since both have been among the better ranked prospects in the organization for years. Joseph is major league ready and would have been a player likely to be selected by another team. Dwyer may have been on the fence but the Royals must still believe in his talent and that he’ll capture some command.
Marks and Gutierrez are surprises though. Marks has jumped up a lot after a standout performance in the Arizona Fall League. Gutierrez is pitching well in winter ball.
The bad part of this process means that players need to be moved off the roster. To accommodate the six pitchers and Guthrie, the Royals designated seven players for assignment: catchers Brayan Pena and Adam Moore, outfielder Derrick Robinson, first baseman Clint Robinson, left-handed pitcher Ryan Verdugo and right-handers Vin Mazzaro and Chris Volstad.
The Royals have ten days to either trade, release or send any of the seven to the minors. If they did end up back in the minors, they’d still be eligible for the Rule 5 draft.
Both Robinsons were in the discussion to be designated for a while. Clint Robinson should get a look from another organization and Derrick Robinson might be of interest to some teams, but he’s likely to make it through if I had to guess. Moore might find a taker from another organization looking for a backup. Pena could as well.
It seems year after year Pena is at risk of being moved off the Royals roster. He’s arbitration eligible so his salary was starting to be too great for his contributions. He’s likely to latch on elsewhere. Considered one of the good guys in the game, Pena’s always been a sentimental favorite, but it’s a business and objectively, he’s easy to replace. We talked with him back when Salvador Perez was close to coming off the 60 day disabled list and the possibility of Pena’s departure was significant back then, too.
Verdugo made one disastrous start last year and otherwise pitched well in Omaha, but he’s always had control problems and when he wasn’t called up in September, the writing was mostly on the wall. He talked about it with the Kansas City Baseball Vault just a couple of weeks ago. He’s left-handed, which is bound to get him another look.
Mazzaro has never gotten past the 14 run, 2.1 inning performance against Cleveland from May 16, 2011. He started to see some success last year in Omaha in relief, but the Royals have given up on him. He’s only 26 and should get a look someplace in middle relief. It’s interesting that of the two players the Royals acquired for David DeJesus – Mazzaro and Marks – the one considered the throw-in is the one sticking around.
And finally that brings us to Chris Volstad. Much ado was made when the Royals claimed Volstad off waivers from the Cubs earlier in the month. Many fans weren’t happy and the message afterward hinted that the Royals were going to try to pick pitchers off the scrap heap and repurpose them for the rotation. Instead, Volstad is moving off the roster.
In one more move, the Royals and catcher Brett Hayes agreed to a one-year deal to avoid arbitration. Hayes will make $600,000 in 2013, according to Bob Dutton. The Royals claimed him off waivers from the Marlins earlier in the month and he’s the de facto backup catcher as of now. The Royals have two catchers on the 40 man roster – Hayes and Sal Perez.
Any of these players could end up being non-roster invitees to spring training with a chance to make the team out of Arizona, but they’re all facing obstacles for that ending.