It’s time to stoke that Hot Stove.
As of 11:01 p.m. Friday, baseball free agents could sign with any team, and the Royals are ready for the madness to begin.
“We’ve been in touch with many free agents,” general manager Dayton Moore said, “and we’re just going to pursue the players that make the most sense for us, centered on pitching, obviously.”
Pitching was on Moore’s mind Friday when the Royals acquired Venezuelan right-hander Guillermo Moscoso off waivers from the Rockies as part of a flurry of roster moves. Fans may recall that Moscoso, then with the A’s, nearly no-hit the Royals in 2011.
The Royals also claimed catcher Brett Hayes from Miami, but they lost right-hander Blake Wood, who was claimed on waivers by the Indians.
Catcher Manuel Pina was assigned outright to Class AAA Omaha, while left-handed pitcher Tommy Hottovy (a Park Hill South graduate), right-handed pitcher Jeremy Jeffress and outfielder Jason Bourgeois were designated for assignment.
The trio must be released, traded or placed on waivers in 10 days if the Royals don’t return them to the roster. If they clear waivers, they can be assigned to the minor leagues.
Additionally, the Royals reinstated left-handed pitcher Danny Duffy and right-handed pitcher Felipe Paulino from the 60-day disabled list. Both pitchers had Tommy John surgery during the season.
The moves give the Royals a full complement of players on their 40-man roster.
The biggest addition was the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Moscoso, who was 3-2 with a 6.12 ERA this past season. Moscoso, who will turn 29 on Nov. 14, has pitched for parts of the past four seasons in the majors with the Rangers (2009-10), A’s (2011) and Rockies (2012). He has a career record of 11-12 with a 4.16 ERA.
Moscoso’s best season came in Oakland when he was 8-10 with a 3.38 ERA in 23 games, allowing three hits or fewer in eight of his 21 starts. That included a Sept. 7 start in Oakland in which he retired the first 17 Royals he faced. Moscoso took a no-hitter into the ninth but Alex Gordon singled with one out.
“It’s important that we acquire as much depth as possible as we go deeper into the winter,” Moore said. “We have a positive feeling on Guillermo based on our reports in 2011 and sporadically through 2012. He’s a very good makeup guy, he’s a strike thrower and he gives us depth.”
According to FanGraphs, 51 percent of the balls put in play off Moscoso during his career are flyballs, which helped in Oakland’s spacious park and obviously hurt in Colorado. That could serve him well at Kauffman Stadium. In 2012 road games, Moscoso had a 2.70 ERA, albeit in just 231/3 innings pitched.
The Royals have found prior success tapping into the Rockies’ pitching staff. Moscoso’s teammate this year Jeremy Guthrie was 5-3 with a 3.66 ERA in Kansas City after a July 20 trade to the Royals, and Paulino pitched effectively before suffering the elbow injury. Guthrie is now a free agent.
Hayes, 28, has been the Marlins’ backup catcher for parts of four seasons. He batted .202 in 39 games this past season, and has a .217 average in 143 career games. Hayes, who has caught 19 of 74 attempted basestealers in his career (26 percent), was likened to former Royals catcher Matt Treanor by Moore.
Acquiring the 6-foot, 201-pound Hayes will help the Royals should disaster strike again as it did in spring training this year, when both Salvador Perez and Pina were injured.
“I think we all know Salvador Perez is going to catch 150 games, but we need to make sure we have depth there,” Moore said. “Once you get to spring training, it’s too late.”
Wood, who also had Tommy John surgery this year, was drafted by the Royals in the third round of the 2006 draft. In 2010-11, he appeared in 106 games, with a 6-6 record and a 4.30 ERA.
“We were hoping to keep Blake,” Moore said. “Blake pitched very well for us. It was just unfortunate timing with the injury and we just weren’t able to keep him on the roster based on the moves we were going to have to make.”