Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
As teams inch closer and closer to Opening Day, they’re forced to trim the rosters until they reach the number 25. Players may help out with that by using opt-out clauses, as Nate Schierholtz did with the Rangers, but other times, players will simply be released. Scott Baker and James Russell fall into that category, as does the Kansas City Royals’ minor league signee Ryan Roberts, who was released yesterday.
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Roberts was hoping to make the roster as a utility man, but with Christian Colon already in the fold, and the Royals’ desire for an extra outfielder on the bench, Roberts didn’t have much of a chance to head north with the team. His .219/.265/.313 batting line probably didn’t help, either.
When he signed, it did seem like Roberts would provide some value on the Royals bench, particularly in a platoon at third base. Mike Moustakas has been dreadful against left-handed pitching, while Roberts has a .772 OPS against southpaws in his career. He’s also a veteran, and I’m pretty sure having that many tattoos means he has an extra measure of grit, which is always good to have on the bench.
Now, Roberts will hope to catch on with a team who can use his versatility at the big league level, or at least in the minors with a chance to contribute at some point this season.
In a transaction that doesn’t have an impact on the Royals’ big league roster, the organization traded minor league reliever Angel Baez to the Astros for cash considerations. Baez is a 24-year old righty from the Dominican Republic, and he threw 62 innings with a 4.65 ERA for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals last season.
Prior to 2014, Baez worked mostly as a starter, starting 62 of the 73 games in which he appeared. He strikes out plenty of hitters, with a career K/9 of 9, along with 10.3 per 9 in his season exclusively out of the bullpen. The problem is he’s also walked nearly 11% of the batters he’s faced in his career.
He has a big fastball that is a true weapon, topping out in the upper 90s with sink, but his lack of quality secondary pitches suggests the move to the pen is the best way for him to make it to the big leagues. Baez does throw a curveball, but it likely won’t develop as anything more than an average pitch, perhaps worse than that if his command doesn’t improve.
Basically, Baez is a lottery ticket, and while it’s great to keep explosive fastballs in the organization, this won’t be a move the Royals regret making. With Dayton Moore’s ability to build a bullpen, giving away one potential candidate shouldn’t have much of an effect.