By non-tendering four players, the Kansas City Royals have freed up some roster spots just in time for free agency and the Rule 5 Draft.
As the calendar turns to the month of December, 2019 is almost over. That hasn’t stopped the Kansas City Royals from making some internal roster moves, though:
On Monday, the team decided to part ways with the aforementioned quartet of Cheslor Cuthbert, Jesse Hahn, Erick Mejia and Humberto Arteaga. All four players’ roles with the team were questionable heading into the 2020 season, which makes these transactions unsurprising as a whole.
A 27-year-old right-handed hitting infielder, Cuthbert filled in admirably for Mike Moustakas when he went down with a knee injury during the 2016 season. Since then, though, Cuthbert has performed very poorly. Combining for 175 games over the next three years, the Nicaraguan third/first baseman posted an average line of .232/.287/.350. His defense was always an area of concern. Most players hit their primes when they turn 27, but Cuthbert’s best season may be behind him.
Hahn dealt with injuries for the past two seasons. After not tossing a single major league inning in 2018, he returned for 4.2 innings of work late in the 2019 campaign. Allowing seven earned runs during that brief span, the resurgence Kansas City was hoping for never came. There’s still hope for Hahn to return to form as he’s just 30 years old, but it doesn’t appear as if that’ll be as a member of the Royals.
Mejia had hype surrounding him as a potential utility option, but the Royals don’t exactly need one of those with a super-utility option already on the team in Whit Merrifield. In nine games with the team this season, 25-year-old Mejia played four different positions, hit .227 and drove in four runs. He’s worthy of taking a flyer on.
A career minor leaguer before making his debut in 2019, Arteaga spent nearly a decade stuck fighting for a spot on an MLB roster. He appeared in 41 games with the Royals this past season, although he struggled at the plate. Hitting .197 in 122 at-bats, improvement will be critical for the future career prospects Arteaga has.
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Who will replace Cuthbert, Hahn, Arteaga and Mejia on the Royals’ roster? Will it be a Rule 5 pick, or a free agent? Who knows. One thing is for sure, though: Dayton Moore has something brewing behind the scenes.