Royals Sign Yohan Pino to Major League Contract


Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals have announced that they’ve signed free agent pitcher Yohan Pino to a major league contract. To make room on the roster, Casey Coleman has been designated for assignment. Pino turns 31 years old in a couple of weeks and made his major league debut with the Twins in 2014, pitching 60.1 innings with a 5.07 ERA.

According to his peripheral stats, Pino was a bit better than that, as he struck out 7.5 batters per 9 innings and walked just 2.1 per 9. The righty’s 3.94 FIP suggests he may have been the recipient of some bad luck, although we don’t have enough information to confirm that. His minor league numbers display similar strikeout and walk rates, and a 3.76 ERA in more than 1,100 career innings.

Pino throws mostly a fastball, slider, and changeup, but he’ll mix in a few curveballs and sinkers as well. He’s not a high velocity guy, with his fastball sitting a tick above 89 MPH. He can reach back and touch 92 on occasion though. His slider is his best swing-and-miss offering, though it’s not elite in that regard. Pino gets more fly balls than anything else, which should play well in Kauffman Stadium. However, he’s also been dinger-prone, allowing 8 homers in those 60 innings with Minnesota, along with 9 more in 73 innings at Triple-A last year. Seems like opposing hitters were really barreling him up.

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Surely the Royals are hoping Pino gets better with age, and under the tutelage of Dave Eiland. They might be able to improve his effectiveness pitching in front of the tremendous outfield defense, and considering his already solid peripheral stats, the front office might see some untapped potential.

It’s unclear how the team will use Pino moving forward. He’s been a starter for much of his career, but he’s also worked plenty of games out of the bullpen, even finishing 11 games in the minors in 2013. The Royals clearly needed another starter to round out the rotation, although I’m sure most were expecting a flashier move than this one. Perhaps that other move is still to come. They’ve talked about having a 13-man pitching staff, so maybe they want plenty of options available to them in the bullpen.

Then again, this could be a situation in which the Royals try to sneak Pino through waivers and stash him in the minors for additional depth. The Royals will be his 6th professional organization since 2006, and his 4th in the last 4 seasons, which makes the major league deal part somewhat puzzling. But they may have offered him a minor league deal, but had to up the offer to get him signed. We don’t yet know the financial commitment here, so this move might mean nothing at all for the 2015 Royals.

What it means for Coleman, however, is that he’ll likely be pitching for another organization next season. The 27-year old right hander threw 12 innings for Kansas City in 2014, allowing 7 earned runs, striking out 5, and walking 6. He was much more impressive in Omaha, where he pitched 67 innings with a 2.15 ERA, 7.1 strikeouts per 9, and 3.5 walks per 9.

The Royals still have a full roster, and they’ve yet to announce the Kendrys Morales signing, which means another move should be coming soon.