Royals relief pitcher Ross Ohlendorf has exercised the opt-out clause in his minor-league contract, according to a report from ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. The Royals have a 48-hour window to add Ohlendorf to their 40-man roster or he will become a free agent.
Ohlendorf, 33, signed with the Royals this offseason after finishing last season with the Texas Rangers. After a rough start to the spring, he has settled into a reliable relief arm in recent weeks. His minor-league contract featured an opt-out clause beginning March 20.
Ohlendorf allowed five runs in two innings in his first two appearances. He’s allowed just one earned run in his last seven innings, including five scoreless appearances.
The Royals already added right-hander Dillon Gee to the 40-man roster this spring, placing left-hander Mike Minor on the 60-day disabled list. Adding Ohlendorf to the roster would require a corresponding move to free up a spot.
The Royals have other roster decisions looming as well. Left-handed pitcher Brian Duensing and infielder Clint Barmes can opt out of their minor-league deals on March 29. Outfielder Travis Snider can opt out on March 30.
The competition for the Royals’ final bullpen slots is a crowded one. Gee and left-hander Danny Duffy appear positioned to join Wade Davis, Joakim Soria, Kelvin Herrera and Luke Hochevar in the bullpen. If the Royals elect to carry 12 pitchers in April, that would leave just one vacant spot.
The Royals have more flexibility with right-handed pitcher Chien-Ming Wang, who has been one of the surprises of camp. Wang’s minor-league deal features an opt-out clause on May 1, meaning he can become a free agent if he is not on the 40-man roster by that date. In the meantime, the Royals can assign to a minor-league club to begin the season.