Royals’ Roster Decisions: Noel Arguelles


Noel Arguelles via Jen Nevius

In the next couple of months, the Royals’ roster is going to be undergoing some changes. Dayton Moore will be adding and subtracting players via free agency, trades, waivers, and the like. Over the coming weeks, I’ll periodically be looking at what players currently on the 40 man roster with which the front office may choose to cut ties in order to make room for players who could help the Royals in 2014. At the end of each player review, I’ll tell you if I think the Royals should cut the player (trade, DFA, non-tender, etc.) or keep him.

In January of 2010, the Royals signed a young Cuban by the name of Noel Arguelles to a 5 year, $6.9 million contract. Arguelles had defected back in 2008, along with Jose Iglesias, the current shortstop for the Detroit Tigers. After signing, most websites (including this one) ranked Arguelles among the Royals’ top 10 prospects.

And that was pretty much the pinnacle of the Noel Arguelles era.

Arguelles suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery just a few months after signing, forcing him to miss the entire 2010 season. In 2011, he debuted with Wilmington, making 21 starts spanning 104 innings. Prior to signing, Arguelles’ fastball sat in the low 90s, even touching 94. But after the surgery, he was lucky to touch 90 MPH. His 5.5 strikeouts per 9 innings left something to be desired, although Arguelles was able to limit walks, posting a strikeout to walk ratio of 2.67. With an ERA of 3.20, the Royals thought Arguelles may have figured out how to pitch at a lower velocity level.

Oh, how I wish they were right.

In 2012, Arguelles made 25 starts for AA Northwest Arkansas, and, well, let’s just say it didn’t go well. In 119.1 innings, he put up a 6.41 ERA, a K/9 of just 4.4, and a BB/9 of 5. Arguelles followed up that gem of a season with a 2013 campaign in which he was only able to pitch in 77 total innings due to injury. Much like in 2012, Arguelles issued more walks than strikeouts. He did lower his ERA all the way down to 5.73, so there is that. If you’re looking for a silver lining in this black cloud of fail, Arguelles’ velocity seems to have climbed back into the lower 90s. The positive results, on the other hand, are still lagging behind.

Following this past season, the Royals sent Arguelles to the Arizona Fall League, likely to give him one more chance to prove he deserves a spot on the 40 man roster. Thus far, that proof remains to be seen. In 7.2 innings, Arguelles has issued 8 walks and only has 3 strikeouts. Typically with a sample size that small, I’d be the first one telling everyone to remain calm, but with Arguelles’ track record, a larger sample may not be necessary. I haven’t seen enough to make me believe he has any legitimate chance to turn things around and find major league success. Arguelles is still owed a little over $1M, meaning the Royals wouldn’t be hampered by his contract. However in this instance, his roster spot is much more valuable than the contract dollars.

Final decision on Arguelles: Cut him. A trade may be possible if another team feels like Arguelles could still turn it around, but I’m thinking he’ll eventually be designated for assignment. It’s time to move on from Moore’s $7 million gamble.