KC Royals: Offseason moves begin with 2 releases

(Mandatory Credit: Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mandatory Credit: Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports) /

In two not-so-surprising Friday transactions, the KC Royals kicked off their offseason roster moves by releasing two familiar players. Gone according to the club (Twitter link) are utility infielder Hanser Alberto and pitcher Scott Blewett.

Both chose to become free agents.

The Royals have until Nov. 19 to establish their 40-man roster for Rule 5 Draft purposes; Friday’s pair of releases trimmed that roster to 38, but expect more 40-man moves as the club adds players to protect them from the Rule 5 and drops others to make room for them.

Why did Kansas City release Alberto and Blewett?

Hanser Alberto was good for the KC Royals, but they ran out of infield room.

Alberto turned out to be an excellent offseason addition after Kansas City signed him to a minor league deal last January. He made the club out of spring training and demonstrated throughout the campaign why he’d been Baltimore’s regular second baseman for two years before coming to the Royals.

He hit .270 in 103 games, and played third base 49 times, second base 31 times, and errorless shortstop in 17 games. He also pitched once and served as the club’s DH in 10 games. Alberto’s efficient presence ultimately made reserve infielder Kelvin Gutierrez expendable, and the Royals sent him to the Orioles for cash in early July.

So, it wasn’t Alberto’s play that forced his release, but instead the lack of room for him in the Royals’ talent-rich, potentially overstocked infield. With Gold Glove candidate Whit Merrifield at second (unless he moves to the outfield), Nicky Lopez at shortstop, and either Bobby Witt Jr. or Adalberto Mondesi at third (or shortstop if Lopez moves back to second), finding playing time for Alberto would have been complicated, especially if the team chooses to transition Mondesi to a super-utility role. Cutting Alberto suggests the Royals might be planning to do just that.

If anything is surprising about his release, it’s that Alberto was under team control for another year. Perhaps they tried to trade him and couldn’t find a suitor or obtain an adequate return. Letting him go now, of course, avoids the risk of arbitration and saves contract money.

Righty pitcher Scott Blewett apparently ran out of time with the KC Royals.

While a numbers crunch probably ended Alberto’s Kansas City time, the team appears to have decided Blewett wasn’t in its future plans.

Blewett, selected by the Royals in the second round of the 2014 amateur draft, spent most of his professional career as a starter until this season, when he split time between the rotation and the bullpen. He went 6-3 in 12 starts and 13 relief appearances between Triple-A Omaha and Rookie League, where he appeared in two games. But his 6.16 overall ERA was too high for a starter, reliever, or swingman.

For the most part, Blewett pitched decently in three games for the Royals this year, striking out four and surrendering only a run in five innings. But his five walks were too many. His major league debut last year was good; he was 0-0, 3.38 overall in parts of two Kansas City campaigns.

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The Royals began their offseason moves by releasing Hanser Alberto and Scott Blewett Friday.