According to ESPN and Baseball America’s Jerry Crasnick, the Royals have signed 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff to a minor league deal that includes an invite to Spring Training. Kouz will make $1M if he makes the big league roster. The deal also includes $300K in performance incentives. He can choose to opt-out of the contract if he isn’t in the majors by May 1st.
Kevin Kouzmanoff’s career started off with a bang in 2006 with the Cleveland Indians. On the very first pitch he had ever seen at the big league level, Kouz hit a grand slam – being the first player ever to do so. In the succeeding offseason, he was dealt along with pitcher Andrew Brown to San Diego for 2B Josh Barfield.
He had the best 3 seasons of his career thus far with the Padres (2007-09). During his time with the Friars, he had a relatively pedestrian average (.263) and a poor OBP (.309). (It should be noted that Kouzmanoff strikes out a ton and takes walks like Miguel Olivo) But his value was in his power (59 HR) and his glove (.966 Fld%). In 2009, he set a MLB record for Fld% by a 3B in a single season by committing only 3 errors in 309 chances (.990 Fld%). In the following offseason though, Kouz was again traded – this time to Oakland (along with 2B Eric Sogard for OF’s Scott Hairston and Aaron Cunningham). This was the beginning of a downward trend for the 3B.
In 143 games with Oakland in 2010, Kouz had a sickly slash line (.247/.283/.396), but still managed to produce a 1.2 WAR (mostly due to 32 doubles, 16 HR, and a .968 Fld%). In 2011, he played in 46 games with the A’s before he was shipped in August to Colorado for a PTBNL/cash. Ouch.
He managed to take part in 27 games with the Rockies at the tail-end of the 2011 season before being outrighted from the 40-man roster and thus electing free agency.
And that brings us to today.
This is most likely an insurance signing for Mike Moustakas. I would say, with how the everything currently looks, Kevin has a very small chance of breaking Spring Training as a part of the 25-man roster. But he does have value as a Defense-First, Power-Second, all-others-last role player. It’s another low-risk, low-cost signing by GMDM. And it, in all likelihood, won’t matter much.