It’s been relatively slow around the baseball world lately, but the Royals did make a couple of announcements on Thursday. First, after confirming the signing of Brad Penny to a minor league deal, the Royals announced they had signed reliever Guillermo Mota to a minor league contract.
Mota is a 40 year old veteran who has spent time with the Expos, Dodgers, Marlins, Indians, Mets, Brewers, Dodgers (again), and Giants, last pitching in the majors in 2012. Most recently, he struck out 24 batters in 20.2 innings with San Francisco, but his time was shortened after being suspended for 100 games due to a 2nd positive test for performance enhancing drugs. His first positive test came in November of 2006 and resulted in Mota missing the first 50 games of the following season. For his career, Mota has struck out 7.3 batters per 9 innings and has a strikeout to walk ratio of 2.1. He did receive an invite to spring training, but with all the bullpen depth already in Kansas City – and even more young depth at AAA – I would expect Mota to spend close to all of 2014 in Omaha.
Also on Thursday, the Royals and Tim Collins avoided arbitration by agreeing to a 1 year, $1.3625 million contract. That amount is about $300K more than what MLB Trade Rumors had projected, but it still seems to be a very fair price. Also, if Collins were to take his entire salary in $100 bills, he could make a stack 54.5 inches tall. Collins is 67 inches tall, so he’ll probably have to wait until next year to build a stack of money that equals his height. The little lefty is coming off a decent season in which he struck out 8.8 batters per 9 innings, but he also walked 4.7 per 9 and allowed over 8 hits per 9. Despite being pushed into a bit of a LOOGY role, Collins actually has a reverse platoon split for his career, allowing a .702 OPS against lefties and a .669 OPS against righties. Of course, that trend reversed itself in 2013, but Collins has an above average changeup to go along with a terrific curveball, so he is capable of handling batters on both sides of the plate. In 2014, Collins should be one of the many solid middle-inning relievers in the Royals’ bullpen, and he does have the ability to slide into a setup role if need be. With Collins signed, the Royals have just six players left who Dayton Moore will need to sign if he wants to keep his arbitration-free record intact (Greg Holland, Eric Hosmer, Luke Hochevar, Aaron Crow, Emilio Bonifacio, and Justin Maxwell).
One final interesting note we learned regarding Brad Penny’s deal: If he does not make the big league squad by April 2nd, Penny has an opt-out clause that would make him a free agent if exercised. I still think it’s unlikely Penny makes the 25 man roster, particularly given the team’s other available options, but the opt-out date being so early in the season could indicate that the Royals are serious about at least giving him a legitimate shot at the 5th spot in the rotation.