This is the week the KC Royals were to open their 2020 season. Like so many other things, however, baseball stands still and uncertainties abound.
Here are KC Royals Midweek Musings for the day before the major league season was to have started.
The Holland and Rosenthal opt-outs. It’s been almost two full weeks since COVID-19 shut baseball down and delayed the efforts of two veteran relievers to make the KC Royals’ roster. Trevor Rosenthal, signed by the club to a minor league contract in December and Greg Holland, recipient of a similar deal in January, seemed well on their ways to securing jobs in new manager Mike Matheny‘s bullpen.
Rosenthal, once Matheny’s closer in St. Louis, struck out nine and hadn’t given up a run or a walk in his five Cactus League innings. Holland, once the Royals’ lockdown closer, had also pitched well. He was 3-0 over six games and six innings with eight strikeouts and one walk; his 4.50 ERA resulted primarily from one shaky inning.
Their roster fates are unknown (at least publicly), a situation made a bit more uncertain by the opt-out provisions, with Thursday deadlines, Rosenthal and Holland both have in their contracts. At this writing, the situation remained unresolved, but good common and business sense would be to extend the pitchers’ opt-out deadlines. Opt-out clauses allow players to escape contracts and seek work elsewhere if they’re not satisfied with their status–but under present circumstances, it’s likely no better prospects exist so there are no reasons to press the issue.
Minor league players. Most minor league players could rest somewhat easier after last week’s announcement by Major League Baseball that all 30 clubs will pay allowances to those players through April 8. Discussions continue on a plan to pay them from that date until the season opens.
Players with minor league contracts will receive allowances, but players who weren’t on major league 40-man rosters but were receiving spring training allowances at major league rates, those who weren’t participating in minor league spring training, and those receiving some other subsistence-related benefits from big league clubs will not.
Negotiations continue between the major league players’ union and baseball concerning payment for big league players.
All major league teams, including the Royals, previously committed to spending at least $1 million each to pay stadium workers during the game’s hiatus.
Free agents in limbo. Several free agents remain unsigned with few, if any, visible signs they’re being actively pursued. Yasiel Puig still has no baseball home and former KC Royals Ervin Santana, Clay Buchholz, Melky Cabrera, Wily Peralta and Jason Vargas are still without work. Officially, James Shields and Ben Zobrist remain free agents, but Shields hasn’t pitched since 2018 and Zobrist recently said he doesn’t plan to play this season.
Ex-Royals in the coaching ranks. Among the better-known former KC Royals players now coaching in the majors are Kevin Seitzer (hitting coach for Atlanta and also a former KC hitting coach), Chili Davis (hitting coach for the Mets), Dusty Wathan (the Phillies’ third-base coach), Brian Bannister (pitching coach for the Giants), Mel Stottlemyre Jr. (Miami’s pitching coach), Carlos Febles (third base coach for Boston), Bob McClure (Minnesota’s bullpen coach and a former KC pitching coach), Sal Fasano (Braves’ catching coach), and Ricky Bones (Mets’ pitching coach).
That’s it for this week. We’ll be back next week with more KC Royals Midweek Musings.