The KC Royals made a roster move Monday. Was it the right thing to do with just a few games left in the season? Are other moves possible?
Some KC Royals Midweek Musings while wondering if we might see Asa Lacy in the big leagues next season:
Soler up, Gutierrez down. The Royals made a curious roster move Monday. Just hours before embarking on the final few games of the season, the club activated primary designated hitter Jorge Soler from the Injured List and, to make room for him on the active roster, optioned infielder Kelvin Gutierrez to their T-Bones Stadium training site.
Its timing makes the Soler-Gutierrez move a bit odd. A lingering right oblique strain forced Soler to the Injured List Sept. 8; activating him for the season’s final week, with the Royals on the brink of sure elimination from the playoffs, seems a risk outweighed by the potential benefit. Oblique injuries can be nagging, Soler’s suffered such an injury before, and having him in the lineup for a few games will mean virtually nothing because the club isn’t in a position to make a realistic push for the postseason.
Bringing Soler back also deprived Gutierrez of playing time. The Royals are clearly taking a close look at infield options for next year: Hunter Dozier moved from right field to first base and Gutierrez took some turns at third while a leg issue caused the club to use Maikel Franco as its designated hitter. Now, it appears Gutierrez will finish this campaign playing against his teammates at the alternate site.
The franchise seems to be high on Gutierrez as a backup infielder, but sending him out with a week left was surprising, especially when the Royals could have left him at third to supplement his 82 big league at-bats, given Soler the rest the season off and let Franco DH; after all, they’ve likely seen enough to decide whether to bring Franco back next season.
Could Wade Davis come back? The Colorado Rockies designated former Royals closer Wade Davis for assignment over the weekend, then released him Monday. Should Kansas City try to make Davis another of its reclamation projects? The club’s efforts to rebuild Trevor Rosenthal and Greg Holland certainly paid dividends this season, so why not try their luck with Davis?
As much as he’s revered in Kansas City, it’s probably best that the Royals pass on Davis. His decline over the past two seasons is alarming.
Davis saved 47 games for the Royals from 2014-2016 and posted minuscule ERAs of 1.00, 0.94 and 1.87. He left for free agency and saved 32 games for the Cubs in 2017, although his ERA increased to a still-good 2.30.
He moved on to the Rockies and led the National League in saves with 43 in 2018 but his ERA went up again, this time to 4.13. Last year was worse—his ERA skyrocketed to 8.65 and his saves nosedived to 15. He suffered a right shoulder strain early this season and gave up 10 runs in 4.1 innings before Colorado cut him.
Kansas City’s bullpen situation also weighs against bringing Davis back. It is vastly improved and far more reliable, and it’s crowded to boot. Holland appears to be back in fine form and would be a better offseason target for the KC Royals, and it won’t be surprising if they take a run at Rosenthal this winter. The club also has other viable internal late-inning relief and closer candidates.
A Davis comeback can be nice to think about, but probably isn’t a good practical move.
Aaron Brooks. News came Tuesday that former Royal Aaron Brooks, who’s been pitching well this season for the Korean Baseball Organization League’s Kia Tigers, is headed back to the United States after his wife and two children were injured in an automobile accident. When Brooks pitches again is, of course, secondary to his family’s unfortunate situation. Our thoughts and best wishes go out to the family.
Brooks had unremarkable records with Kansas City over the 2014-2015 World Series seasons (0-1 and 16 runs surrendered in seven innings), three seasons with Oakland (5-7, 5.71 ERA) and last season with Baltimore (4-5, 6.18 ERA).
But his performance overseas has been stellar. He won his fourth straight decision Saturday and is now 11-4 with a 2.50 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 16 quality starts out of 23.
Simulation update. The 2020 simulation being conducted at baseball-reference.com is in its final regular season week. At 54-103 and 42.5 games behind first place Cleveland in the American League Central through Tuesday’s games, the KC Royals won’t be playing in October.
Team leaders include Jorge Soler with 26 home runs and 86 RBIs, Adalberto Mondesi with 47 stolen bases, Whit Merrifield with a .309 average, Danny Duffy with nine wins, and Ian Kennedy and Scott Barlow with 11 saves apiece.
The simulation is updated daily around noon and utilizes out of the Park Baseball 21.
That’s all for now. We’ll be back next week with more KC Royals Midweek Musings. Until then, stay safe and healthy.