Minor Moves: Royals in Waiting


Until the World Series wraps up, there’s not much activity going on transaction-wise. Teams can’t trade yet. Arbitration offers aren’t due yet. Nobody can negotiate with new free agents.

But teams can work out deals with their minor leaguers and other players can be picked up via waivers, so it’s not a wasteland either.

June 10, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Kansas City Royals center fielder Mitch Maier (12) bats against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the second inning at PNC Park. The Pittsburgh Pirates won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

At the start of the month, the Royals released a handful of minor leaguers, including pitchers Bryan Paukovits while Roman Colon and Mitch Maier both elected to become free agents. Both had played a bit in the majors in 2012, but Colon was a questionable option to start with and Maier was designated for assignment just before the All-Star break and finished the year in Omaha. He’ll look to latch on somewhere else as outfield depth.

The Royals announced five minor league signings today as well. Former Arizona Diamondback Juan Gutierrez re-signed with the team. He spent last season working back from a shoulder injury and had a rough season. He got hit hard at every level and is just trying to get a chance at this point. At his best, he was just a touch above average as a reliever in 2009.

Other deals were worked out with Max Ramirez who played all of last year in Omaha as a catcher, DH and first baseman. The former Rangers prospect was passed over in favor of making a trade for Humberto Quintero last season in spring training after the Salvador Perez injury, so he’s little more than an emergency option and organizational depth. His last big league at bat was in June of 2010.

Outfielder Nick Van Stratten will return after another year with Northwest Arkansas. He’s always been a decent player in the minors but doesn’t have much star power and at 27 years old, won’t figure into long-term plans. He’ll fill his role and keep at it though. Sometimes it pays off.

Blue Rocks first baseman Matt Fields

Matt Fields knows about that – he started last year in the Independent Leagues and finished last year leading Wilmington in home runs. He’s been around pro baseball since 2005, scraping by, fighting for a spot. He talked with our Jen Nevius early last month about his experience in Wilmington and his journey through pro ball.

The Royals also signed pitcher Devon Lowery to a minor league deal. He hasn’t been on the mound in a game since 2010. He’s referred to as a player, but he’ll be more of a coach within the organization. Much like Aaron Guiel‘s signing last spring, this is a way of sneaking around some of the rules that determine how many coaches you can have on a team in the minors.

Are any of these going to be earth-shaking moves? Not at all – but it’s an interesting look into the structure of the organization.