Royals Roster Decisions: Casey Coleman

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Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the deadline to add Rule 5 Draft-eligible players has come and gone, the Royals’ 40-man roster has 38 players on it. While the team may not add more than 2 more players the rest of the offseason, my money would be on the over there, which means there are likely players currently on the roster who will not be on the roster by this time next month. Keeping that in mind, it’s time to continue my look at some of the players whose roster spots may be in jeopardy.

So far, I’ve written about Aaron Crow and Louis Coleman, and you can read those posts here and here, respectively. Today’s player under the microscope is Casey Coleman.

The Royals acquired Coleman in April of this year, after he had been released by the Cubs. The 27-year old righty split time between Triple-A and the big leagues, pitching 67 innings for the Storm Chasers and another 12 innings for the Royals. His ERA in Omaha was a sterling 2.15, although he didn’t strike out a ton of batters (7.1 per 9), and those numbers were much, much worse in Kansas City (5.25 ERA, 3.8 K/9).

In his major league career, Coleman has thrown 177.2 innings to the tune of a 5.72 ERA, and his peripheral numbers aren’t much better. With 6.2 strikeouts per 9 and 4.5 walks per 9, Coleman simply hasn’t gotten the results a team wants to see. He has spent more time as a starter than as a reliever in the big leagues, but his numbers out of the bullpen have actually been worse than they are out of the rotation.

As a starter, Coleman’s ERA was 5.22, and he had a K/9 of 6.7. As a reliever, his ERA is 7.40, and his K/9 is 4.8. It’s a fairly small sample spread over several seasons, but still noteworthy, since most pitchers tend to see better results as a reliever.

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You probably think all of those bad numbers make this an easy decision for the Royals, but it’s not quite that simple. There are a few things working in Coleman’s favor. He certainly isn’t young anymore, but he also is inexperienced, which of course means he’s also cheap. The Royals already have quite a bit of money locked up in their bullpen, so they may look to fill out that unit with lower salaries.

Coleman probably doesn’t have a ton of projection left, but his fastball sits in the mid-90s, and can even touch 98 MPH on occasion. He also has a slider that averages about 85 MPH, which could be a weapon against right-handed hitters. He held righties to a .598 OPS in 2013, and even though it was the minors, his repertoire suggests he may be able to reproduce a similar platoon advantage if used in those situations. The team likely wouldn’t want to rely on Coleman for any high-leverage innings, but he could fill a role in that bullpen.

Something else the Royals must consider: Coleman is out of options, meaning they could only send him to the minors after pushing him through waivers. I don’t know what effect, if any, that would have on the Royals’ decision, but they’ll need to consider that risk before giving him a contract for 2015.

Final decision on Coleman: Keep him…for now. Because he’s only making the league minimum, or close to it, there isn’t a big problem with keeping Coleman around for the time being. Bullpen depth is always nice to have, and even though he’s certainly not a pivotal part of their relief corps, every bullpen needs a mop-up guy. That’s never a great reason to keep a mediocre pitcher on the roster, but again, the finances are pretty important.

If the team brings in several more players this winter, thus requiring some extra roster spots, Coleman’s position may be much less secure, but he’s not really blocking anyone right now, and if he doesn’t make the 25-man roster out of Spring Training, designating him for assignment won’t have a significant impact on the rest of the squad.

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