KC Royals Decline Options On Alex Rios And Jeremy Guthrie


KC Royals general manger Dayton Moore got back to business one day after celebrating the team’s 2015 World Series win with a parade in Kansas City. He declined options on starting pitchers Jeremy Guthrie and Alex Rios on Wednesday, making both free agents.

While this news coming before Kansas City has cleaned up from the World Series parade seems a bit cold, the league year starts immediately after the World Series ends with free agency opening November 9. Presumably, Rios’ and Guthrie’s contracts demand that the KC Royals decide whether or not to pick up the team’s half of their mutual options options before free agency begins.

In short, Dayton Moore needed to make these decisions immediately in order to give the agents for Guthrie and Rios time to market their clients to prospective suitors before the auction begins.

While declining the options on Jeremy Guthrie and Alex Rios do not preclude the Kansas City Royals from signing them to lower-priced deals, I don’t expect either to return in 2016.

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With respect to Alex Rios, the KC Royals have a wealth of internal replacements that could fill in at right field. First is reserve outfielder Paulo Orlando, who showed a nice combination of athleticism and pop in part-time play. While the club views Jarrod Dyson as more effective off the bench, the team also has minor league prospects Brett Eibner and Jose Martinez who appear ready for trials in Kansas City.

Martinez set a Pacific Coast League record by qualifying for the batting title with a .384 average. Though over-aged at 28, and a minor-league free agent, Jose Martinez has to get at least some consideration due to his .384/.461/.563 slash line at Omaha. The athletic Eibner will be 27 years old in 2016, but slashed .303/.364/.514 with 19 home runs in 431 at bats at AAA. He can play all three outfield positions.

Meanwhile, the soon-to-be 37-year-old Jeremy Guthrie appeared to run out of gas at the tail end of 2015. Guthrie followed up a poor first half (5.36 ERA) with an abysmal second half (7.01 ERA). Unless Guthrie tried to pitch with some unreported ailment, he’s clearly been surpassed by prospects like Miguel Almonte and Kyle Zimmer as candidates for the 2016 KC Royals rotation.

While Guthrie faded last season, Dayton Moore enjoyed a clear success in the much-criticized three-year deal that awarded Guthrie before the 2013 season. Guthrie enjoyed back-to-back 15 win seasons in 2013 and 2014, pitching more than 200 innings each season. Guthrie, along with trade acquisition James Shields, helped stabilize what had been a terrible starting rotation until tailing off in 2015.

Next: 2015 Is A Season To Remember For KC Royals

Good luck to Alex Rios and Jeremy Guthrie, KC Royals fans won’t forget you.