The Royals have announced that they have designated utility infielder Pedro Ciriaco for assignment, and to fill his spot on the big league roster, they have selected the contract of Aaron Brooks from Omaha. Ciriaco appeared in just 1 game thus far, pinch running for Omar Infante against the Tigers on Wednesday, stealing a base, and scoring a run. Brooks had yet to pitch for the Storm Chasers this season, but in 2013, he threw 160 innings with a 4.28 ERA between Wilmington and Northwest Arkansas, along with 6.2 strikeouts per 9 innings and 1.2 walks per 9.
This move comes on the heels of the team going through 5 relievers in their home opening victory against the White Sox yesterday, and it does make sense to add an arm to the bullpen for some depth. However, the choice of Brooks seems odd, given the circumstances. The organization has been very high on Brooks this offseason, noting that he’s added some velocity, and he does get a lot of ground balls with his sinker. And while his command is terrific, there are no less than 4 very capable relievers in Omaha right now who would seem to make more sense. Donnie Joseph and Michael Mariot were already on the 40-man roster, and Buddy Baumann and Spencer Patton have experience in the bullpen, while Brooks has been a starter for his whole career.
I don’t necessarily think this is a bad move, per se, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scratching my head about it. In addition to the candidates I’ve already mentioned, Yordano Ventura will likely be available out of the bullpen for an inning or two (thus giving the Royals an 8-man bullpen for today), and while 5 relievers were used, it’s not like many of them were taxed very heavily. The Royals probably could have gotten by for at least another day or two without needing to worry about adding that extra reliever they so desperately desired.
The other side of this move, of course, is that the Royals are now left with no backup middle infielder, beyond Danny Valencia for emergency situations. For a team whose middle infield struggled with injuries throughout spring training, and for a team whose shortstop has once again looked overmatched at the plate, this decision could prove to be foolish. The team will need Infante to stay healthy, and for Alcides Escobar to find some semblance of offense while his “dome” is still being protected this early in the season.
All that being said, I don’t think this move will have an enormous impact overall. Brooks won’t be the first man out of the pen, even with some of the guys being used yesterday. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see him back in Omaha once Louis Coleman is set to return from the disabled list, which could be as soon as early next week. Still, it’s a strange roster move, however inconsequential it turns out to be.