Luke Hochevar is no longer being considered for the no. 5 slot in the Royals’ rotation.
In just three outings this spring totaling all of 8.0 innings, Hoch has surrendered 6 runs (all earned), 9 hits (including 2 HR), and had a WHIP of 1.88.
Mercifully, Hochevar’s time in the Royals’ rotation appears to be over. Manager Ned Yost has decided move the long-time starter to the bullpen, leaving the fifth rotation spot up for grabs between Bruce Chen and Luis Mendoza. Yost said that, while they’re long shots, Will Smith and Yordano Ventura are still in the mix for the job as well.
Given his history as a starter and his ability to throw a mid-90′s fastball that’s coupled with a decent sinker/slider combo, Luke could serve as both a long-man in the bullpen (if need be) or a late-inning guy – depending on the situation. As of right now, I would envision Luke’s role in the ‘pen as either a 6th or 7th inning guy. The fact that he’s only pitched out of the bullpen three times in his career makes me wary of the thought of him pitching late in meaningful games.
It was time for a change. Actually, it is well past the time for a change. The Royals have been trying to move Hochevar all winter long, talking the most with the Colorado Rockies (Hoch is from Denver, by the way). It has been reported that the asking price for Hochevar is “quite a bit”, which is understandable given that this organization seems to be enamored with a pitcher who has a career 5.39 ERA, -0.3 WAR, and is still going through salary arbitration (he’s scheduled to make $4.56 million in 2013). But, as Ned and GMDM have beaten into the ground, Hoch has the “stuff” to be a quality starting pitcher.
He really does, though.
We’ve all seen him dominate. We’ve all also see him have a perfect game going into the 5th, 6th, or 7th inning before imploding and costing the team the game.
It’s time to ask Luke for just one good inning.
This move is similar to what the Rays did with Wade Davis last season. They’re both big-bodied pitchers who are capable of dialing it up if asked to go one inning at a time. Davis thrived in the bullpen last season (54 appearances, 70.1 IP, 2.43 ERA, 11.1 K/9, 1.4 WAR) before being traded to Kansas City with the intention of sliding him back into the rotation. If the Royals can get anything even remotely close to that from Hoch, they’ll be ecstatic.
“I think it makes us a better team. I think it makes us a stronger team. It gives us a better chance to win every day. With three weeks left, I want to get him acclimated to that role.” - Ned Yost on moving Hochevar to the bullpen (Kansas City Star)
Luke appears to be taking the move in stride and is willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win.
“I’m willing to take the ball in any position that I can to help the club. That’s the bottom line. Whether it’s starting or in relief, whatever it is, my role is not important. What’s important is that when I take the ball, I’m helping the club.” - Hochevar on moving to the bullpen (Kansas City Star)
Meet Mr. Player to be Named Later.
With Elliot Johnson, the Royals and Rays have completed the December 9th trade that saw the Royals give up Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi (plus two others) for James Shields and Wade Davis.
Johnson, who will be 29 on opening day, is known more for his versatility on the field than his presence at the plate. Although he’s spent most of his time at shortstop (154 games), he’s logged time at second base (23), third base (7), left field (4), center field (2), right field (1), and first base (1).
A switch-hitter, Johnson took part in 123 games last season for Tampa Bay – managing a .242/.304/.350 slash with 10 doubles, 2 triples, 6 HR, and 33 RBI in 297 official ABs. He also managed to swipe 18 bases in 24 total chances.
In parts of three big league seasons (200 games), Johnson has managed a .223/.283/.338 line with 31 XBH (17 doubles, 4 triples, 10 HR) and 24 stolen bases. He has a career K:BB ratio of 3.79.
For his career, he is a much better batting left-handed (.252) than right-handed (.183), so a possible platoon with Chris Getz is out of the question.
Elliot would make a great utility-man for the Royals, as he has the ability to hold his own defensively at just about every position outside of pitcher and catcher. That, coupled with the the fact that he’s a switch-hitter who is a smart base runner, make him all the more valuable to a team short on impact role players.
To make room for Johnson on the 40-man roster, the team shifted starter Felipe Paulino to the 60-day DL. Paulino is still recovering from Tommy John surgery and will likely be out until after the All-Star break.
The Royals have announced that they have claimed catcher George Kottaras off of waivers from the Oakland A’s, who had designated him for assignment last week after the received catcher John Jaso from the Mariners as a part of the Michael Morse trade.
Kottaras, 29, played in 58 games last season for the Brewers before being dealt to Oakland in exchange for reliever Fautino De Los Santos. While with Oakland, he took part in 27 regular season games, as well as four playoff games.
He didn’t fare too well offensively last season, posting just a .211 batting average. But George does possess the ability to take a walk (.351 OBP in ’12) and has enough power to be a threat (36 doubles and 24 HR in 592 career AB).
In order to make room for Kottaras on the 40-man roster, the Royals opted to designate utility infielder Tony Abreu for assignment.
In 2012, Abreu hit .257/.284/.357 in 22 games; splitting time at second, third, short, and DH.
As it stands right now, Kottaras and Brett Hayes figure to be the primary options for backing up Salvador Perez, with Max Ramirez and Manny Pina figuring to get a few looks as well in spring training.
The Royals made very odd and thought provoking news when it was announced that they had reached an agreement with free agent and former AL MVP Miguel Tejada.
The deal, of the minor league variety, is worth $1.1 million and comes with up to $400K in bonuses. Although he isn’t on the 40-man roster yet, he will be as soon as a spot opens up.
“I’m very pleased with this. The contract with the Royals is a done deal. I’m going to try to help this team and their younger players. I’m so happy because this is what I was aiming for, a chance to get back to the majors.”
Tejada spent last season with the Orioles Triple-A affiliate. In 36 games, he hit .259/.325/.296 with 5 doubles and 18 RBI and got a majority of his defensive reps at third base. His last experience at the major league level came back in 2011 with the Giants. He managed to play in 91 games that season, but looked nothing like a former MVP or six-time All-Star. He managed to hit a meager .239/.270/.326 and split most of his defensive time between third base and shortstop.
At 38 years old, Miguel Tejada is instantly the oldest player within this organization at any level.
Dayton Moore has been saying that he has been looking for a backup shortstop this offseason who is more glove friendly at the position than Irving Falu and Tony Abreu. Is Miguel Tejada, a 38 year old former shortstop converted to third base because he’s gotten too slow for the position, the answer?
Being a career .285/.336/.457 hitter with 304 HR, 463 doubles, and 1282 RBI, I can’t find enough reason to believe, even at 38, that Miguel Tejada can’t hit at the major league level. I’m sure he could even fill-in a few times a week at second and third base and be at least adequate. But when it comes to being a glove-first shortstop, which is what GMDM said he was looking for to backup Escobar, Tejada has never been and never will be. This move smells an awful lot like the move the team pulled off last winter when they decided to bring back Yuniesky Betancourt on a one-year deal to serve as the “utility” guy.
Not only did Yuni bomb in the field, he became a clubhouse cancer due to his lack of time in the starting lineup. His bat had just enough pop in it to keep him playing every few days, while his defense was nothing short of extremely awful. He only filled in at shortstop once and third base for the Royals in 2012. He made an error.
Miguel Tejada is a great clubhouse guy with a lot of fun energey and brings a ton of experience to this team. He could even provide this team with some power off the bench. I’m not meaning to rag on this signing, as it could hold value. It just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense at the present time.
For now at least, Endy Chavez’s career has come full circle.
The Royals and veteran outfielder Endy Chavez have agreed to terms on a one-year minor league deal that assuredly comes with an invite to spring training.
Chavez, who will be 35 by the time next spring rolls around, made his major league debut with the Royals back in 2001.
A career .269/.309/.367 hitter across 11 seasons, Chavez is known more for his play in the field rather than his ability at the plate. He’s compiled a career WAR of 4.1 while playing significant time at each spot in the outfield.
He spent 2012 with the Baltimore Orioles, compiling a .203/.236/.278 slash line with 8 extra-base hits (6 doubles, 2 HR) in 64 games. He was mostly used as a late-inning defensive replacement, logging 213 innings in left field, 146 in right field, and 6 innings in center.
Since he’s a left-handed hitter, Chavez could possibly serve as a platoon-type partner with Jeff Francoeur in right field.
The Royals have made a habit this offseason of signing veteran players who seem to be in the twilight of their respective careers, signing Xavier Nady, Willy Taveras, George Sherrill, Dan Wheeler, and now Endy Chavez.
The Royals continued their “old” ways today by signing veteran journeyman Xavier Nady to a minor league contract.
Nady, now 34, has a career triple-slash of .270/.324/.432 across his 11 seasons at the big league level. Before joining Kansas City, Nady had played for eight different organizations: San Diego, both of the teams in New York, Pittsburgh, Chicago Cubs, Arizona, Washington, and San Francisco. The X-Man has accumulated more than 150 games of experience at three different positions (RF: 446, 1B: 186, LF: 156).
In 59 games this season (40 with Washington; 19 with San Francisco), he hit only .184/.253/.316 with 7 doubles, 4 homeruns, and 13 RBI.
Much like current right fielder Jeff Francoeur, Nady has been exceptional against left-handed pitcher. For his career, Xavier has a .284/.352/.441 line in 905 official ABs against southpaws.
Although the team hasn’t announed it yet, Nady’s deal likely includes an invitation to spring training. Given his positional flexibility and ability to hit left-handed pitching, he could get a long look come March.
The Royals have reached one-year minor league agreements with three veterans: Willy Taveras, George Sherrill, and Dan Wheeler.
All three have received spring training invites with their contracts.
Willy Taveras, 30, is a journeyman outfielder who will be joining the 9th organization of his career. He’s predominantly known for his speed, both out of the box and between bases. He’s totaled 195 stolen bases throught his seven big league seasons and owns a career stolen base percentage of 81.5%. Taveras isn’t a high on-base guy (career .274 AVG, .320 OBP) and has never hit for much power (71 doubles, 8 HR, .327 Slg% in 2412 AB). He’s more of the slap-for-singles type. He was out of baseball in 2012. He made his last big league appearance for the Nationals in 2010 before spending all of 2011 on the Rockie’s Triple-A affiliate.
George Sherrill, 35, missed nearly all of last season after an elbow issue led to Tommy John surgery (he appeared in two games for the Mariners). Prior to last season, the lefty reliever had a 3.00 ERA and 38 Ks in 36 IP (50 appearances). In his nine pro seasons, he’s ammassed a 3.77 ERA, 56 saves, and a 2:1 K:BB ratio. He’s likely memorable to most due to his signature flat-brimmed hats, earning him the nickname “Brim Reaper”. He’s become more of a lefty-specialist now, with lefties hitting just .256/.275/.333 against him.
Dan Wheeler, also 35, spent all of last season with the Indians. A right-handed reliever, he appeared in 12 games, pitched 12.1 innings, and gave up 12 runs for the Tribe last season before being outrighted to Triple-A Columbus where he spent the rest of the season. Throughout his 13 year career, Wheeler has appeared in in 64 or more games six times (2005-10) while compiling a 3.95 ERA and a 1.222 WHIP. His best season was probably back in 2005 with Houston where he made 71 appearances, finished 20 games (including 3 saves), and had a 2.21 ERA – good for a 2.1 WAR. He’s held right-handed hitters to a .216/.267/.366 line for his career.
It’s finally happened.
The Royals and Dayton Moore have done something drastic. Something bold. Something that borders on the edge of sanity.
And something that they absolutely had to do.
Last night, right around 10 pm CT, the Royals acquired starting pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis along with a player to be named or cash from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for uber-prospect and Minor League Player of the Year Wil Myers, right-hander Jake Odorizzi, left-hander Mike Montgomery, and third baseman Patrick Leonard.
What the Royals get:
- James Shields RHP (age 30, 7 seasons, 87-73, 19 complete games, 3.89 ERA, 3.68 K/BB, 1.223 WHIP, 17 WAR)
- “Big Game” James has been the anchor of the Rays’ rotation throughout his seven years with the big league team. While many would not consider him an “ace”, Shields definitely has the track record to be the leader of nearly any big league pitching staff, as well as the numbers to back it up. Since his first full season back in 2007, he’s never pitched less than 200 innings (averaging 227 IP per season) and averages just under 200 K per season. He’s never spent any time on the DL, as his pitching motion is relatively natural and fluid for him. His fastball sits in the low-90s; but his changeup, thrown in the low 80s, is his one of the best in baseball. He also throws an above average cutter and a decent curveball. As it stands, the Royals currently have control of James for 2013 ($10.25 million) and 2014 ($12 million team option). He’s the type of pitcher that the Royals both covet and desperately need. In 2011, he finished 3rd in the Cy Young voting. In 2012, he was 15-10 with a 3.52 ERA and a 2.2 WAR. Over the past two seasons, only one pitcher has pitched more innings (477) than James Shields: Justin Verlander.
- Wade Davis RHP (age 27, 4 seasons, 28-22, 3.94 ERA, 2.04 K/BB, 1.315 WHIP, 2.0 WAR)
- Although he spent all of 2012 coming out of the bullpen, the Royals undoubtedly plan to use Wade Davis in the rotation. Before shifting to the
bullpen, Davis was 25-22 with a 4.22 ERA and finished 4th in the Rookie of the Year voting back in 2009. In 2012, he made 54 appearances out of the bullpen, spanning across 70.1 innings, ammassing a 2.43 ERA, a 3.00 K/BB ratio, and a 1.4 WAR. He throws a low-mid 90s fastball (both four-seam and two-seam) and a spike curveball, as well as a slider and changeup. The Royals will have control of Davis through 2017 (’13: $2.8 million; ’14: $4.8 million; ’15: $7 million team option; ’16: $8 million team option; ’17: $10 million team option).
- Although he spent all of 2012 coming out of the bullpen, the Royals undoubtedly plan to use Wade Davis in the rotation. Before shifting to the
- PTBNL or Cash
What the Rays get:
- Wil Myers OF
- Jake Odorizzi RHP
- Mike Montgomery LHP
- Patrick Leonard 3B
The Royals knew going into the offseason that, if they were going to acquire a top of the rotation starting pitcher, they were going to have to pay dearly for it. Afterall, one cannot acquire talent with out surrendering talent in return.
The Rays gained two of the top prospects in baseball in Myers and Odorizzi. Mike Montgomery’s well-documented struggles in 2011 and 2012 earned him a change of scenery. Patrick Leonard is a nice prospect, but the jury is still out on his potential.
Wil Myers will forever be remembered in Royals baseball lore as a ghost – only heard from but never seen in terms of the big league level. He’s the one that got away. He’s the one that said it’s not me, it’s you.
Jake Odorizzi will be remembered as “the key piece” in the Zack Greinke trade two years ago. A pitcher that proved himself in the minors, only to get two late-September starts for the Royals that left a lot to be desired. But, nonetheless, his comparisons to Zack Greinke will be enough for Royals fans to clammor about giving him up.
Mike Montgomery has struggled mightily over the past two seasons and has been basically given up on by the KC faithful.
Pat Leonard is still a relatively unknown prospect and is basically a throw-in by the Royals. He has some projectable power and will settle in at one of the four corner positions.
This trade signals that Dayton Moore and the Royals are looking for wins now.
The Royals are now at a time when the big league team needs to start producing wins on the field. Starting pitching has been this team’s Achilles heel for years. The Royals haven’t been to the playoffs since 1985.
27 years for those needing further perspective.
They’ve had one winning season this century.
Dayton Moore’s reputation and future with the Royals will be determined by this trade. It is undoubtedly the biggest and boldest move he’s made during his tenure here in Kansas City. He’s taking this risk knowing full well that it could flop.
But it also could be the push that this team needs to contend in the AL Central.
This is the type of move that Royals fans have been waiting for. Are they generally happy with the price they paid for a “non-ace” pitcher plus another capable starter? No. But that comes with this city’s love for unproven commodities. Kansas City baseball fans have fallen in love with “potential” and are personally hurt to see Wil Myers go.
But this is a move that was going to happen. The writing has been on the wall for the past two offseasons. This was the time to strike. It may be considered a reach by some. But only time will tell who won this trade.
The Royals are going all-in for 2013.
Dayton Moore has officially checked out of the Winter Meetings in Nashville and is on his way back to Kansas City. While nothing of major significance took place for the Royals, groundwork for free agents and trade partners have been laid out. The Royals checked in on R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese, Zack Wheeler, James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, Jon Lester, Derek Holland, Anibal Sanchez, Kyle Lohse, Ryan Dempster, and probably another 20 names that we were never made aware of.
Aiming for Anibal
Zack Greinke is still a free agent, meaning that Anibal Sanchez, Kyle Lohse, Ryan Dempster, and basically every other available starting pitcher with top-of-the-rotation potential are still free agents as well.
Anibal Sanchez has been the Royals’ top free agent target throughout the Winter Meetings, but they’ll need to act fast after Greinke starts the domino effect if they want him on board. Many of the teams outside of the Greinke market, along with whoever loses the Battle for Zack (either the Dodgers or Rangers), have Anibal Sanchez at the top of their wish list.
It’s safe to say, Anibal isn’t going to come cheap.
Historically, the Royals have generally had to overpay free agents in order for them to come to Kansas City (ex: Meche- 5 years, $55 million; Guillen- 3 years, $36 million). Suffice it to say, Sanchez, or any other top free agent for that matter, won’t be here unless the Royals practically outbid everyone else.
Cross your fingers.
The Price Isn’t Right… Yet
The Royals are no longer discussing R.A. Dickey-for-Wil Myers with the Mets. But they did engage in some dialogue with them about possibly dealing Wil Myers for LHP Jon Niese and RHP prospect Zack Wheeler. Outside of Dickey and Johan Santana, Niese and Wheeler are probably the two most coveted pitchers within the Mets organization. If they were strictly talking Myers for them straight-up, Dayton was likely laughed out of the room. But Myers-plus could be interesting.
The Royals other major trade front still lies in Tampa Bay. The Rays are said to be wanting Myers + prospects for starter James Shields, which the Royals balked at. Shields is dominant and would automatically become the Royals’ ace.
And the Rays know that.
For them, it makes sense to hold on to Shields until the free agent market pieces begin to fall into place. Whoever loses out on Greinke/Sanchez/Lohse could turn their eyes toward Tampa, turning regular talks into a free-for-all.
Keeping Tabs on Dempster
Even though he turned down the Royals 2-year, $26 million offer, the Royals are still keeping tabs on righty Ryan Dempster. Given his age (35), the Royals think a two-year deal for $13 million a year is more than sufficient.
Adding a third year to the deal would peak Dempster’s interest and could be enough to sign him, but it doesn’t make sense for the Royals to pay $13 million to a 38 year old pitcher with a declining skill-set.
Regardless, he’ll be worth keeping an eye on – especially after Zack Greinke is off the market.
Mega Trade Talks Cooling
All of yesterday seemed to be spent speculating on a four-team mega trade between the Rangers/Rays, Diamond backs, Indians, and Royals/Mariners, with the main focus being Arizona trading Justin Upton for a starting shortstop – possibly Asdrubal Cabrera or Elvis Andrus/Jurickson Profar.
As of now, with the Gaylord Opryhouse Hotel in Nashville nearing emptiness, talks have cooled.
The whole deal is shrouded in mystery. Were the Royals/Mariners/Rays actually included in talks? Was it all speculation?
The Rangers covet Justin Upton, and if they don’t re-up Josh Hamilton, he’s their guy. Deals are still on the table, but it isn’t for certain exactly which, or even how many, teams are involved.
Rule 5 Draft
Baseball’s Rule 5 Draft took place in Nashville this morning. The Royals didn’t lose any players in the major league portion, but lost five players in the minor league portion of the draft.
- Triple A Phase
- Padres: Diego Goris 3B, Federico Castandeda RHP
- Pirates: Ethan Hollingsworth RHP
- Phillies: Brendan Lafferty LHP
- Reds: Ryan Dennick LHP
The Royals opted to pass on all of their selections, as taking a player in the Major League Phase would have required them to open a spot on their already full 40-man roster. They would also have to keep said player on their 25-man roster for all of 2013 if they didn’t want to risk losing the player to their former team for $25,ooo. All players selected in the Major League Phase requires the selecting team to pay $50,000 to the team the player was previously on.
Happy Holland Days
The Texas Rangers are going all-out in their efforts to land free agent Zack Greinke.
In an effort to clear payroll and a spot in the starting rotation, they are fielding calls on left-hander Derek Holland.Only 26 years old, the Rangers signed him to a 5-year, $28 million extension this March, making him extremely valuable to both the Rangers and a potential trade partner. He wouldn’t command Wil Myers, but would have to bring top prospects like Jake Odorizzi or John Lamb back to Texas in return. In 2012, Holland went 12-7 in 27 starts with a 4.67 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP with a 7:3 K:BB ratio – good for a WAR of 1.7. The Brewers and Twins are also calling Texas GM Jon Daniels about the lefty.
Super Trade in the Works?
The Rangers are also trying desperately add Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton in exchange for a starting shortstop, but Texas is unwilling to surrender either one of Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar, leading them to explore a mulit-team deal, in which the Royals are said to be included in. The other team said to be included is the Cleveland Indians, who are shopping shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and could be dealt to Arizona in this scenario.
Of course, all of this is barring whther or not Josh Hamilton re-signs with the Rangers. If Hamilton goes back to Texas, this deal is likely off the table.
Here’s how it could shake down as of right now:
- Rangers get: OF Justin Upton + other(s)
- Dbacks get: SS Asdrubal Cabrera + other(s)
- Indians get: RHP Trevor Bauer/LHP Tyler Skaggs + other(s)
- Royals get: LHP Derek Holland + other(s)
Is this deal likely to happen? Probably not. Trades like this generally fall apart due to the number of teams involved. The Royals would have to give up a number of prospects if everything goes through, being as they aren’t currently open to dealing an everyday player or Wil Myers in almost any trade.
There are other reports that the Rays are in on the deal with the Rangers making their way out of it. In that scenario, the Royals could wind-up with either James Shields or Jeremy Hellickson.
Royals, among others are in on Shaun Marcum. He had a 3.70 ERA last season for the Brewers, but was only able to make 21 starts before missing the rest of the season due to an elbow issue.
Free agent pitchers with elbow issues are likely going to sign incentive laden one-year deals. Given the fact that Marcum will be 31 by the time the 2013 season rolls around, the Royals could get him on the cheap if he really wants to pitch in Kansas City – which is his hometown incase you haven’t heard that before from everyone who writes about the Royals for the past six months.
Teams are wary of Marcum because his fastball velocity, which usually sits anywhere between 86-89 mph, has dipped down to around 81-83 mph. He underwent Tommy John surgery back in 2008, and there is the fear that he may require undergoing the procedure for a second time.
Let’s Stay in Touch
Although they likely won’t be able to afford either one of them, the Royals are reportedly keeping in touch with free agent RHPs Anibal Sanchez and Kyle Lohse.
Both Sanchez and Loshe are seeking mulit-year deals in excess of $15 million per season. Until Zack Greinke decides where he wants to pitch for the next 5+ years, it’s unlikely that either Sanchez or Loshe sign a deal. Greinke is going to set the market for free agent starting pitchers this offseason and will likely drive up the price of many of the remaining available top starters.
The Royals are also keeping tabs on RHP Ryan Dempster. It’s been reported that they offered Dempster a two-year, $26 million contract last week, only to have Dempster turn it down because he’s looking for a three year deal. Right now, Dayton Moore is unwilling to give the extra year that Dempster is holding out for. The Brewers and Red Sox are also showing interest.
Not Even Close
That’s how former Royals closer Joakim Soria characterizes the Royals offer to him.
Incase you haven’t heard, Soria and the Texas Rangers have agreed to a two-year, $8 million deal.
Soria knows that the Royals have a great bullpen and acknowledges that the team has greater needs right now. He went on to thank the fans and organization for the six years he spent here.