The Royals added four minor-league players, including former first-round pick Christian Colon, to their 40-man roster Wednesday in a series of personnel moves prior to the 11 p.m. deadline to protect players from possible selection in the Rule 5 Draft.
The corresponding space-clearing moves included the decision by right-handed pitcher Felipe Paulino to become a free agent rather than accept an assignment to Class AAA Omaha after clearing waivers.
The Royals also, effectively, owned up to an expensive mistake by designating left-hander Noel Arguelles for assignment along with veteran minor-league infielder Irving Falu.
The Royals signed Arguelles, 23, to a five-year deal for $6.9 million in January 2010 after he defected from Cuba. He underwent shoulder surgery later that year and never performed to expectations. He is also out of options.
“He’s never come back,” general manager Dayton Moore said of Arguelles. “But he’s young. He’s just got to reinvent himself. Some pitchers have to do it at 33 or 35. He’s got to do it now.”
Arguelles is unlikely to be claimed because of his contract, and the Royals are inclined to retain him by sending him back to the minors on an outright assignment.
Added to the roster along with Colon, a middle infielder chosen with the fourth overall pick in the 2010 draft, were third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert, outfielder Lane Adams and reliever Michael Mariot.
The moves filled all spots on the Royals’ 40-man roster.
Clubs can continue to add major-league players to their roster through trades or free-agent signings, even if it requires a corresponding space-clearing move, but are prohibited from adding any player from their minor-league system until after the draft.
Prospects become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft if not protected by a club on its 40-man roster after four or five pro seasons: four years for players who are 19 or older when they sign their first pro contract; five years for those younger than 19.
The draft is Dec. 12 at the Winter Meetings in Orlando, Fla.
Paulino, 30, flashed dominant form on occasion after arriving in a May 26, 2011 trade from Colorado but, as has been the case throughout his career, struggled to remain healthy.
He made just seven starts in 2012 before undergoing Tommy John surgery to repair a torn elbow ligament and saw his comeback halted last season by back and shoulder problems. He underwent shoulder surgery in mid-September.
“He’s got a good arm, but he couldn’t stay healthy,” Moore said, “We felt we needed the (roster) spot.”
Paulino hinted at his departure earlier this weekon Twitter
by thanking fans for their support during his time with the Royals. That tweet was removed shortly after it appeared.
The Royals provided Arguelles with a final chance at redemption by sending him to the Arizona Fall League, but they chose to jettison him after he yielded 10 runs on nine hits and 14 walks in 10⅓ innings in eight appearances.
Falu, 30, spent 11 seasons in the Royals’ system after his selection in the 21st round of the 2003 draft but managed just 95 big-league plate appearances. He batted .256 last season in 135 games at Omaha.
“He’s a good player who performed well for us when given a chance,” Moore said. “It’s probably good for him to get a chance to go to a National League team where he’ll be a better fit (as a utility player) than an American League team.”
Colon, 24, is viewed as a candidate to win a big-league job next spring either as a second baseman or a utility player after batting .273 last season in 131 games at Omaha. He is currently playing for Ponce in the Puerto Rican Winter League.
“In the end, it looks like he’s going to be a second baseman,” assistant general manager J.J. Picollo said. “But he’s not far off what we thought he was going to be. We thought he’d be a very steady, everyday player. That’s what he’s looking like he’s going to be.”
Cuthbert, 21, showed early promise after signing for $1.35 million as a 16-year-old Nicaraguan in 2009 — and The Star still ranked him as the organization’s No. 12 prospect in its post-2013 rankings because of his upside tools.
But Cuthbert batted just .215 with six homers and 28 RBIs last season in 64 games at Class AA Northwest Arkansas following his promotion from Hi-A Wilmington.
“Cuth finished the season in Double-A, and he’s always had a patient approach,” Moore said. “He always gets himself into good hitter’s counts. He’s a really good defender at third base. Terrific hands and an above-average arm.”
Adams, 24, made a major move last season and closed the season by helping Omaha to the Triple-A championship. He ranked No. 17 in The Star’s recent rankings.
“He’s completely evolved as a player,” Picollo said. “He’s always played the game hard, and he’s a great athlete. But he’s gotten faster. He runs the bases hard. He steals bases. He goes first to third. He scores from first on a double.
“His instincts instincts are hard to teach, but certain guys pick upon things and are able to apply it.”
Mariot, 25, attracted attention last year in spring training with a series of strong outings prior to his assignment to Omaha, where he spent much of the year as the Storm Chasers’ closer. He compiled a 3.56 ERA in 47 games and struck out 66 in 60⅔ innings.
Baseball’s next major personnel deadline is Dec. 2, when all players under a club’s control must be tendered contracts. Those who don’t have an offer by 11 p.m. Central time become free agents.
Clubs often choose not to offer a contract, if a deal isn’t reached before the deadline, in order to avoid the financial risk of arbitration.
The Royals have 10 players eligible for arbitration: Emilio Bonifacio, Tim Collins, Aaron Crow, Chris Getz, Brett Hayes, Luke Hochevar, Greg Holland, Eric Hosmer, George Kottaras and Justin Maxwell.Royals’ 40-man roster
Francisley Bueno, Maikel Cleto, Louis Coleman, Tim Collins, Aaron Crow, Wade Davis, Danny Duffy, Chris Dwyer, Donnie Joseph, Jeremy Guthrie, Kelvin Herrera, Luke Hochevar, Greg Holland, John Lamb, Michael Mariot, Justin Marks, James Shields, Will Smith, Everett Teaford and Yordano Ventura.
Brett Hayes, George Kottaras, Francisco Pena and Salvy Perez.
Emilio Bonifacio, Billy Butler, Pedro Ciriaco, Christian Colon, Cheslor Cuthbert, Alcides Escobar, Chris Getz, Johnny Giavotella, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas.
Outfielders (6): Lane Adams, Lorenzo Cain, Jarrod Dyson, Alex Gordon, David Lough and Justin Maxwell.