The Royals are betting on Kyle Zimmer one more time.
Kansas City signed Zimmer, its former first-round pick, to a one-year contract that was announced Friday. It’s a major-league agreement. Zimmer elected for free-agency in November.
To make room for Zimmer on the 40-man roster, the Royals designated third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert for assignment in a corresponding move.
Zimmer, 27, was once seen as a future front-line starter with a top-grade fastball and a intriguing curveball to match, but injuries derailed his progression in the minor leagues. He has yet to throw a pitch at the big-league level.
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But he perhaps could help a bullpen still in need of supplementation before 2019. The Royals relievers posted the worst earned run average in the American League last year.
Zimmer did not pitch anywhere in 2018 while battling injuries. Instead, he spent the year training at a Seattle facility tailored to revive his arsenal, particularly his mechanics and the velocity on his fastball. That was what stood out to scouts seven years ago, after all.
Since the Royals selected him with the fifth overall pick in 2012, he has compiled a 3.54 earned run average over 85 minor-league appearances. In 2017, the last year in which he pitched, he operated mainly in relief, spending most of the year with Class AAA-Omaha.
The medical history is extensive. He’s had elbow surgery, a shoulder operation, thoracic outlet syndrome surgery and multiple other impediments to his progress.
Cuthbert, 26, hit .194 with three home runs in 30 games with the Royals in 2018 before a lower back strain ended his season. His best year came in 2016, when he batted .274 with 12 home runs filling in for the injured Mike Moustakas.
The Dodgers signed former Royals outfielder Paulo Orlando to a minor-league deal, per multiple reports. Orlando, 29, spent a decade in the Royals organization. He had a breakout year in 2016, batting .302. But he hit under .200 each of the ensuing two seasons.