That new three-year contract for Jeremy Guthrie was merely an opening act Tuesday for the Royals in a massive personnel overhaul that saw seven players removed from the 40-man roster prior to the 11 p.m. deadline.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
The moves cleared space for Guthrie and six additions from the farm system, including five left-handed pitchers: John Lamb, Mike Montgomery, Chris Dwyer, Donnie Joseph and Justin Marks. They also added right-hander J.C. Gutierrez.
The most notable cut was Brayan Peña, who spent the last four seasons as the clubs primary backup catcher. Peña, 30, batted .236 last season with two homers and 25 RBIs in 68 games.
In designating Peña and Adam Moore for assignment, the Royals effectively handed the backup catching job to Brett Hayes, whom they acquired in a Nov. 2 waiver claim from Miami.
At the end of the day, general manager Dayton Moore said, we wanted to go with the guy who made the most sense defensively. Plus controllability. That was the main thing.
Peña is on track to be a free agent after next season. Hayes, 28, wont be a free agent until after 2016 at the earliest and agreed Tuesday to a one-year deal for $600,000 that avoids the possibility this winter of arbitration.
Well see how things unfold, Moore said. Wed still like to get (Peña) back in some capacity, but we like Hayes defense and game-calling and we control him much longer.
Also designated for assignment: right-handed pitchers Vin Mazzaro and Chris Volstad, left-handed pitcher Ryan Verdugo, first baseman/designated hitter Clint Robinson and outfielder Derrick Robinson.
The Royals now have 10 days to trade, release or send the seven players through waivers. Tuesdays moves leave the club with no space on its 40-man roster.
The six additions are players who would have been eligible for the Rule 5 Draft if not protected prior to the 11 p.m. deadline. The draft is Dec. 6 at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn.
Lamb, Montgomery and Dwyer were each ranked among the games best prospects prior to the 2011 season. Lamb suffered an elbow injury that year that required Tommy John surgery, but Montgomery and Dwyer simply regressed.
Theyre both very young left-handers with a lot of upside, Moore said. Dwyer has a plus curveball, and Montgomery has a big arm. They havent reached their prime yet. We still think they have a chance to be pretty good pitchers in the major leagues.
Joseph was a key acquisition in the July 31 trade that sent closer Jonathan Broxton to Cincinnati, while Marks and Gutierrez (who now prefers J.C. to Juan) recently boosted their stock with strong performances in offseason leagues.
We felt we were going to have to protect Marks based on how he threw in Double-A, Moore said, but he went to the (Arizona) Fall League and continued to perform well. He commanded his fastball. It was up to 94 (mph) at times with a pretty good breaking ball.
We signed Gutierrez last fall coming off Tommy John (surgery). In 2010, he had a pretty good season with Arizona. Weve seen pretty much all of his outings this winter in Venezuela, and hes throwing the ball very well.
The Royals acquired Volstad through an Oct. 26 waiver claim from the Chicago Cubs but deemed him expendable after acquiring Ervin Santana from the Angels and signing Guthrie. Volstad was eligible for arbitration and in line to make about $3 million.
Mazzaro arrived with Marks in the Nov. 10, 2010 trade from Oakland for outfielder David DeJesus but never pitched his way into a regular big-league role. Mazzaro was 4-3 with a 5.73 ERA last season in 18 games, including six starts.
Verdugo compiled a solid year at Class AAA Omaha, going 12-4 with a 3.75 ERA, but was pounded by Seattle in his only big-league appearance.
He had a great year in Triple-A, Moore said, but it came down to a need to protect certain guys who we thought were going to be better. Its as simple as that.
Clint Robinson regressed last season at Omaha and was blocked at the big-league level by first baseman Eric Hosmer and designated hitter Billy Butler. Derrick Robinson is a speedster whose bat never developed to expectations.
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