In light of the midnight roster deadline in Major League Baseball, the KC Royals made a flurry of moves Wednesday night to set their 40-man roster at a full forty. The Royals cannot add another player to the roster that is already within their minor league system until after the Rule V Draft on December 12th (which is held the final day of the Winter Meetings).
First, Felipe Paulino elected free agency rather than accept an outright assignment to Triple-A. Paulino had Tommy John surgery around the same time as Danny Duffy in 2012 and has not fully made the comeback. Last season, he pitched in a few rehab games, but succumbed to shoulder problems. In two seasons with the Royals, he had a 3.55 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in 162.1 innings pitched. To me, this was an easy decision to cut ties with the big man.
The Royals then designated pitcher Noel Arguelles and infielder Irving Falu for assignment. I understood taking Arguelles off the roster because he is not going to help the big league team anytime in the near future. He has struggled with shoulder problems and control issues since the Royals signed him out of Cuba in 2009 for five years and $7 million. He has a career 5.12 ERA in 300.1 innings pitched. Most likely, he will clear waivers and be headed back to the Royals minor leagues in 2014.
Falu was a bit of a head scratcher for me, especially after fellow infielder Rey Navarro signed with Cincinnati via free agency. Falu can play all over the infield and has done nothing but hit at every level. Despite only 95 big league plate appearances with the Royals, he hit .337. In his Triple-A career, he is a .283 hitter. I thought he was someone that could contribute for the Royals as a bench player in 2014, but he is most likely headed elsewhere.
Then came the four additions.
Christian Colon was the main addition, considering the Royals will be having an open competition at second base in spring training (unless they sign someone or trade for an every day player). Colon came on strong in the second half and definitely deserves a shot this season. Thing is, he is playing winter ball in Puerto Rico, but is mainly playing shortstop (and some third base).
Michael Mariot was a name I was glad to see added. The right-hander has been overlooked a bit in his career. I saw him in his first season in Wilmington and he was the piggy-back pitcher for all the “prospect” starters. He came out being the one that impressed. This past season, he became the closer for Triple-A Omaha.
Lane Adams may be the most improved player in the Royals farm system, but he is still a ways away from cracking the big leagues. He has good speed and can play all three outfield spots. Adams reached Omaha this season just in time to help them win the Triple-A Championship. However, he showed in the Arizona Fall League that his defense needs ALOT of work. Adams has a pretty good eye, but also strikes out a ton. His showing in the AFL left a lot to be desired, so I was surprised that the Royals protected him.
Third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert has showed good gap power at a young age (just 21), while also showing pretty good plate discipline. However, he has had a hard time producing a respectable batting average. He usually plays with a smile on his face (which is a good thing) and seemed to overcome his effort issues from 2012. I was surprised that the Royals protected him because I did not see another team picking him up in the Major League portion.
The one missing from the list is Brian Fletcher. He has moved from first base to the outfield over his career so far with the Royals. There are people out there who are not impressed because he is not the toolsy athlete that Adams can be and he has not developed the power that the Royals seem to be obsessed with, but all Fletcher has done over his career is hit (career .294 hitter). I would not be surprised if a team scooped him up in the Rule V Draft.
With the Royals roster now full, it does not look like they will be adding anyone from the Rule V Draft. Unless they cut someone else.