The Royals signed reliever Seth Maness after he underwent an experimental elbow surgery last fall that promises to cut ulnar collateral ligament tear recovery time to six months.
The Kansas City Royals continued their aggressive approach in free-agency following the death of Yordano Ventura in late January. After adding OF/1B Brandon Moss and starting pitcher Jason Hammel, they have now signed Seth Maness to a minor league deal.
The 28-year-old Maness pitched four seasons for the St. Louis Cardinals, compiling a solid 3.19 ERA in 237.1 innings as a reliever with seven saves. His career ERA+ of 120 indicates he’s been a solid bullpen option for his entire career before injuring his ulnar collateral last August. The Cardinals decided to non-tender him, making him a free-agent.
Had Maness opted for a traditional Tommy John repair he would have missed most, if not all, of the 2017 season. However, Maness chose to become the first major league player to utilize a new procedure known as “primary repair”. While not all players with a UCL tear are eligible for this procedure, primary repair involves leaving the original ligament in place and repairing the damage.
Prior to the 28-year-old Maness, this surgery had only been used in high school and college athletes whom doctors presumed retained strong tissue integrity around the elbow. Maness agreed to a minor league deal which becomes a $1.75 million contract if he’s called up to pitch in the major leagues this season. The moderate price seems to reflect the limited track record for this procedure with major league pitchers.
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Major League Trade Rumors reported that at least 22 teams sent scouts to observe his workout last week. With the KC Royals emerging the winner against so many possible suitors suggests that Maness considered Kansas City the best place to display his talents.
With more than 20 teams at least considering him, and given that he signed a minor league deal with no more than $1.75 million in upside, I can’t imagine money was his primary concern. Instead, Kansas City’s unsettled bullpen combined with their strong defense and large park could have been the factors that drove Maness to KC.
Whatever the reasons Maness chose to sign with the KC Royals, general manager Dayton Moore has added a potential set-up man for a very low price. Good job!