Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
Things are continuing to heat up around the league, with the Winter Meetings just days away. Free agent signings and trades are happening all over the place, and teams are tweaking their roster to be ready for the next set of moves. Tuesday night, 32 players were non-tendered by their teams, either for financial reasons, poor performance, or because their roster spot was needed.
The Royals are obviously still working to improve their roster, and it seems like free agent prices will make it difficult for them to just go out and sign the best available starting pitcher, right fielder, and designated hitter. So, they may need to look at some low-cost options for at least one of those positions. Players who are non-tendered aren’t likely to receive big contracts, so I thought I’d take a look at some of them who might be able to contribute to the Royals in 2015.
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There is quite a bit of talent among the players who were non-tendered this year, and unlike those who have been designated for assignment, these guys don’t have to clear waivers before becoming free agents. They are immediately able to sign with any team they choose, which means the cost to acquire them is counted in dollars only – not in prospects.
If you’re looking for the complete list of non-tendered players, you can find them at this link. Below, you will find some of the more interesting names on the list, along with some possibly relevant information pertaining to each player and their potential appeal to the Royals.
Gaby Sanchez, 1B/DH – Hits lefties very well (.863 OPS with a .190 ISO) and can handle the defensive duties at first base more than adequately, which could give Eric Hosmer a few days off against southpaws.
John Mayberry, Jr., 1B/OF – Has Royal bloodlines, and also an .857 career OPS against left-handed pitching, even if his defense leaves a lot to be desired.
Slade Heathcott, OF – Plenty of talent (BA’s #63 prospect in 2013) to go along with a great name, but seems to be incredibly injury prone and hasn’t played above the Double-A level.
Juan Francisco, 3B/1B – Brings a lot of power to the plate (.203 career ISO), and is only 27 years old, but his left-handed bat wouldn’t give the Royals their desired flexibility off of the bench.
Kyle Blanks, 1B/OF – A large human being who’s shown flashes of plus power from the right side, and the ability to hit right-handed pitching (1.020 OPS vs RHP in 2014 in AAA and MLB).
Andrew Brown, OF – Yet another righty with some pop (.235 ISO in the minors, .171 in the majors), although he’s also a safe bet to strike out pretty regularly.
Kris Medlen, RHP – Also coming off a 2nd TJS, and also a terrific pitcher when he’s not on the disabled list (2.47 ERA and 3.96 K/BB ratio between 2012-2013).
Alexi Ogando, RHP – Seems like he should be younger than 31, but injuries have taken their toll, and he doesn’t pound the strike zone like he once did (3.9 BB/9 since 2013).
Logan Ondrusek, RHP – A big righty who had some tough BABIP luck last season that led to a 5.49 ERA, but he’s increased his strikeout rate every year since his 2010 debut.
Wesley Wright, LHP – Has struck out 26.6% of the left-handed batters he’s faced in his career, and has a 52.7% ground ball rate since 2011.
Unless MLB changes some rules, it seems pretty unlikely that the Royals would sign each and every one of those players. They only have one open roster spot right now anyway, so if they do choose to dive into this non-tender market, they’ll need to be picky, unless they are willing to part with one or more of the players already on the 40-man roster.
Based on the needs of the Royals, Blanks is definitely the most appealing hitter, although Brown, Sanchez, or Mayberry could also fit. As for the pitchers, Medlen and Beachy are clearly the gems of the group, even though they may not be ready to go by Opening Day. I’m also very intrigued by Wright, however, I think several teams will be after him as well, which would push his price above where the Royals should go.
The free agent market was starting to thin out some, particularly for hitters, but thanks to the former employers of the players listed above, the Royals now have several more options to pursue as they attempt to improve their roster.