By the end of the night, the Royals will surely have made some changes to their 40 man roster in advance of the reserve deadline. Players on the 40 man roster after tonight will be protected from the Rule 5 draft on December 6.
That means some players will have to move off the roster to make room for at least two players – left-handed pitchers Mike Montgomery and John Lamb. Both were draftees in 2008 and by rule have to be protected or be subject to selection by any team (who would then pay the Royals $50,000 and keep the player on their active roster all season or have to offer them back). With both Montgomery and Lamb being among the top pitching prospects in the organization since the day they signed, they’ll take priority for the Royals.
Bob Dutton of the Star also says that two other pitchers – lefty Justin Marks and righty Juan Gutierrez – could be protected as well after strong showings in offseason leagues. We’ve talked about what Marks had done in the Arizona Fall League, but Gutierrez also did well this offseason, throwing 12 innings in the Venezuelan Winter League which included 15 strikeouts versus 4 walks.
Left-handed reliever Donnie Joseph is eligible for the Rule 5 draft after coming over from the Reds in the Jonathan Broxton trade last year. He probably could have pitched in the majors last season but the Royals never called him up. Chris Dwyer and J.C. Sulbaran are options as well.
To make space, the Royals have candidates who won’t be huge losses if they’re selected of picked up by another team. Vin Mazzaro, Francisley Bueno, Ryan Verdugo, Adam Moore or Brett Hayes could be left off. There’s been a lot of speculation about outfielder Derrick Robinson and Clint Robinson as candidates to be dropped as well.
Derrick hasn’t developed as the Royals had hoped, and with Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Wil Myers (on the way), Jarrod Dyson, David Lough and Jeff Francoeur in line for the outfield next season, Robinson is expendable. He’s also unlikely to be selected in the Rule 5 draft, so that makes him an easier option. Clint has always hit in the minors, but is older than most of the players already in the big leagues and most scouts don’t believe he’s got much of a future beyond a part time player. Some team might take a chance on him as a pinch-hitting or platoon option, but the condition that the Rule 5 player must stay on the active roster all year tends to keep teams from selecting position players, who are harder to stash without overexposing (and those position players who are good enough to handle the big leagues everyday are likely already protected on a 40 man roster).
Another player the Royals could add to the 40 man roster is Manny Pina. Previously this offseason, he’d been passed through waivers and outrighted to the minors where he re-signed a minor league deal. He could be a suitable backup for some team out there.
After tonight, the next roster-relevant deadline is November 30, when teams have to decide to tender contracts to arbitration eligible players or not. The Royals have that decision to make about Luke Hochevar, Brayan Pena, Chris Getz and Chris Volstad.