With a full 40-man and a plethora of players on the 60-day disabled list, the Royals entered this off season needing to shed some roster weight.
The subtractions of Alcides Escobar and Jason Hammel lessened the burden, but there was still work to be done before they could reinstate the injured. With that in mind, the Royals made a flurry of moves on Wednesday.
Wily Peralta signs a one-year deal with a mutual option.
The Royals had held a $3 million option for Peralta for the upcoming season, but tore that up and signed him to a new deal valued at $2.25 million. There’s also a $1 million buyout on a $7 million mutual option for 2020. Basically, the Royals passed on their option for next year, re-signed Peralta for less money upfront and will most likely give him the buyout next fall which will push the total of his contract to $3.25 million. So Peralta is guaranteed at least $250,000 more for basically deferring some of the money due to him in his previous deal with the Royals.
Whew. Who knew these transactions could carry such intrigue?
But wait! According to Jeffery Flanagan from MLB.com, the contract also carries $1 million in performance bonuses if he finishes 55 games next year. For a little perspective it should be noted only six pitchers in club history have finished 55 or more games in a season.
That’s a who’s who of Royals relief excellence. And Mike MacDougal and Roberto Hernandez.
In other words, it’s highly unlikely Peralta will hit the mark to collect that bonus. Stranger things have happened, but take the under.
Peralta pitched OK for the Royals in relief. He sported a 9.2 SO/9 (good!) and a 6.0 BB/9 (not good!). His ERA- was 85, meaning his park adjusted ERA was 15 percentage points better than the league. But his DRA, a measure of the rate a pitcher “deserved” to surrender runs, was a robust 6.24. You look at his peripherals and can see some wicked regression coming his way, but we’re basing this off a half-season (34 innings) performance.
With so many questions surrounding the Royals bullpen, Peralta remains a long shot to be an impact arm, but it’s difficult to argue against any player at that price. Remember, this is a pitcher with a negative WARP for four consecutive seasons, although two and a half of those came as a starter. In relief, his slider worked well and the fastball (a two and four-seam mix) played up a couple of ticks. But as noted above, he can’t consistently hit the strike zone. In other words, Peralta contains multitudes.
He’s my current nominee to be next year’s Brandon Maurer when it comes to effectiveness out of the pen.
With this signing, the Royals currently have close to $70 million committed to six players. Depending on whether you believe the Royals are truthful about a budget of around $90 million for next year, that leaves roughly $20 million to divvy among 19 players.
Nate Karns declines assignment to the minor leagues and becomes a free agent.
The Karns era in Kansas City comes to a disappointing end. Acquired for Jarrod Dyson from Seattle ahead of the 2017 season, injuries derailed a promising career.
Karns had Thoracic Outlet Surgery in early July in 2017 after just nine starts. He was sidelined in spring training this year with elbow inflammation and never made an appearance.
The right-hander made $1,375,000 in his first season with the Royals and in his second season of arbitration eligibility, made the exact same amount last year. MLB Trade Rumors projected Karns to make $1.4 million this year.
If Karns could ever get healthy, his stuff is promising enough that he would be a welcome addition to the Royals rotation. That the Royals decided not to keep him around indicates that he’s still not right. There are a few other candidates currently occupying the 40-man roster who could easily be jettisoned.
Jerry Vasto is claimed off waivers by the Chicago Cubs.
Vasto was acquired at the trade deadline from Colorado for Drew Butera. The left-handed reliever made five appearances and threw 3.2 innings. It was difficult to make a judgement one way or another about his potential, but he figured to be in the mix for a full-time bullpen role for the Royals. That he made it all the way to the Cubs (the 28th in order out of 29 teams), reflects that Vasto is just another fungible bullpen arm.
According to Roster Resource, the Cubs currently have 41 players for the 40-man roster, so Vasto could be on the move again soon.
And with that, the Royals current 40-man roster stands at 37 players with Jesse Hahn, Jorge Soler and Cheslor Cuthbert still needing to be activated off the 60-day DL. There’s still some maneuvering ahead, but with the Royals constrained by budget, it’s still shaping up to be a very quiet winter.