Tough arbitration decisions face KC Royals, Moore

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KC Royals
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Every team has expendable players. The KC Royals have three prime candidates for non-tender.

The 11 KC Royals eligible for arbitration played the 2020 season on one-year contracts. The club will tender new contracts to those it wants to keep and “non-tender” the ones they don’t. Non-tendered players become free agents; tendered players can accept or reject their tenders. Rejections lead to salary negotiations, failed bargaining begets arbitration. Three non-tenders make sense for KC.

Mike Montgomery.  Montgomery pitched just three times this season. He suffered a lat injury in his first start, then pitched 3.1 innings over two late September relief appearances. It’s no surprise, then, that MLBTR projects an arbitration award matching his 2020 $3.1 million base.

The Royals will be wise to non-tender Montgomery and save their money. He is, and perhaps always will be, most remembered not for his body of work but for getting the final out for the Cubs in the 2016 World Series. Kansas City picked him up from Chicago in a 2019 midsummer trade and he went 2-7 with a 4.64 after the deal. His 23-34 career record (17-24 as a starter) doesn’t commend him to a rotation soon to be flush with talented young hurlers. He’s definitely expendable.

Kevin McCarthy.  McCarthy is also expendable. He’s been serviceable in five KC seasons, but this season’s bullpen resurgence relegated McCarthy to just five games and he spent most of the season at the alternate training site. McCarthy’s base was $607,000 and MLBTR predicts he’ll get bumps of $93,000 under the 60-game model and $193,000 under the extrapolated projection. Either figure is too much and the fact he fell into disuse suggests the Royals may feel they have better options. They do.

Glenn Sparkman.  Sparkman is in the same boat as Montgomery. Injury forced sidelined him Aug. 4 and he didn’t see action again. MLBTR believes he’ll get a $4,500 pay cut to $600,000.

Sparkman’s had some good moments with the Royals, but his KC record (4-14 and 5.67 ERA in 52 games) doesn’t warrant a tender. With the coffers low after a season without any paid attendance, and considering the club needs money for other players, $600,000 can be better spent elsewhere.