On Monday morning, seven days before Opening Day, Royals manager Ned Yost announced that Mondesi would be the club’s starting second baseman when the season begins next week in Minnesota. Once viewed as an afterthought in a four-man competition and likely headed for Class AAA Omaha, Mondesi, 21, delivered a sterling performance all spring, beating out Whit Merrifield, Christian Colon and Cheslor Cuthbert.
“He went from, in our mind, day one of spring training, going back to Class AAA, to outright winning the job,” Yost said….
After making his major-league debut in the 2015 World Series, Mondesi, a former top prospect, made his regular season debut last July, batting .185 with 48 strikeouts and six walks in 149 plate appearances. He often looked overmatched at the plate. His pitch recognition and selection appeared raw. He appeared headed for Omaha in 2017, another assignment to refine his approach at the plate.
Ten-year contracts are pretty crazy. Sure, individual teams have thrown out crazy contracts on whim before but, with smarter front-offices being the norm now, pulling a great contract with a flim-flam maneuver seems harder in today’s market. (See Matt Wieters for reference.)
Eric Hosmer, right now, is not a 10-year-contract kind of player. WAR is our best measure of value, and it’s no fan of Hosmer’s. Teams know that, and their own systems would mostly agree. At the same time, you can see how Hosmer could be close to being one of those cornerstones. He could definitely be a better defender than he’s given statistical credit for. It’s hard to ignore the offensive timing he’s had. And the offensive upside is also a selling point, even if Hosmer has been hitting ground balls for six years. There’s more power in there, and some hitters have managed to set theirs free. It could be a matter of making one tweak.
No team in baseball would give Hosmer a mega-contract today, even if they believe him to be a little underrated. What Boras might be taking for granted, publicly, is that Hosmer can consistently be his best self. Deep down, Boras knows there’s work to be done, but there is a legitimate chance here. Eric Hosmer’s best self is a star first baseman. Several months from now, that mega-contract idea might not seem so far-fetched.
Hosmer said Sunday that he, his agent Scott Boras and the Royals are discussing a contract extension, but indicated that he will test free agency if the sides do not strike a deal by Opening Day.
“I don’t know if it’s going to heat up now in spring training,” Hosmer said. “But during the season, I don’t like being bothered with that stuff. If something doesn’t happen here, I don’t see anything during the season really happening.”
Hosmer added, “It’s hard to make it to free agency. It’s a right that every player earns if they make it that far. We are talking about certain extensions, stuff like that. But the way I see it right now, I just want to make it that far. And if I do make it that far without signing anything, I feel like I deserve that right to see what’s out on the market.
“It’s not cutting this place out completely. It’s earning the right to see what else is out there, seeing my options, seeing what would be the best possible situation for me.”
In March 2016, Ventura was taken to a hospital in Arizona after overdosing on medication. Sangiovanni said he had attempted suicide, though some close to him are skeptical of that conclusion.
Whatever happened that day, Ventura’s personal life had become complicated for the young man from a remote Dominican resort town.
“I don’t think it was easy for him to get out of Las Terrenas and come into everything he accomplished,” said longtime friend Abel Padilla. “Not everyone can manage that type of pressure.”
Ventura expressed that burden soon after signing his breakout deal.
When he was home for the All-Star Break in 2015, Orlando Sarante remembers hearing his longtime friend — known to fellow Las Terrenas residents as Yafelín, not Yordano — yearn for the days when he was a poor teenager working for his grandfather’s hardware store and doing construction.
“‘I sometimes wish I was still driving around town in my grandpa’s truck,’” Sarante recently recalled him saying, “‘and that I wasn’t Yordano Ventura.’”
Dewees credits this climb, at least in part, to his work with the software, which he refers to as “neuro”. It was created by NeuroScouting, LLC, which was cofounded by Brian Miller and Wesley Clapp and is based in Cambridge, Mass. “NeuroScouting was started in 2007 with a mission focused on translating the latest brain research into real-world applications,” Miller and Clapp said.
To players like Dewees, it is a seemingly simple program that helps with pitch recognition and reflexes.
“It’s just a standard computer and you use the space bar. It’s very similar to what you would see in a game,” Dewees said in a recent phone interview. In a separate interview last July, Dewees talked about the program, comparing it then to a video game that recreates in-game situations and tests the way hitters react to pitches.
The 23-year-old said the process of using the program each time takes just about eight minutes to complete the day’s work. That work is focused on building his pitch recognition skills, and developing better plate discipline to lay off of bad pitches.
Days before he departed for camp, reliever Brian Flynn crashed through the roof of a barn at his home in McAlester, Okla., breaking a rib and sustaining three non-displaced fractures in his vertebrae, Royals manager Ned Yost said on Tuesday. Flynn, a 26-year-old left-hander, is slated to miss close to eight weeks. He entered camp hoping to compete for a spot in a revamped Royals’ bullpen, but the injury stands as a significant setback.
“He was working on his barn and fell through the roof,” Yost said. “So he took a pretty good tumble, knocked himself out. So he’s going to be about eight weeks behind everybody else.”
I guess you can’t say “he can’t hit the broadside of a barn!”
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Royals are expected to sign pitcher Travis Wood. It will be a two-year deal, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.
Wood, 30, pitched out of the Cubs’ bullpen last season, posting a 2.95 ERA and a 47/24 K/BB ratio in 61 innings. Right-handed hitters hit him pretty hard, compiling an .865 OPS, but Wood held lefties to a .447 OPS.
Baseball Prospectus forecasts a 69-win season for the Royals in 2017 and a last-place finish in the American League Central. And it’s a distant fifth-place finish, six games behind the rebuilding Chicago White Sox.
A year ago, the PECOTA projection was right about one thing in the American League Central: The Indians were picked to win the division and that they did. However, the Royals exceeded their projection of a 76-86 record and a last-place finish in the Central.
Instead, the Royals were 81-81 and third in the division. That continued a trend of (depending on your view) overachieving Royals seasons or wrong predictions.
“I love this ballpark,” Moss said Wednesday afternoon, while donning a Royals jersey at his introductory news conference. “I think it’s one of the most unheralded ballparks in baseball. It’s beautiful. And as far as hitting goes, some hitters like hitting in small parks; some hitters like hitting in parks where you see the ball well. And this ballpark has always been a ballpark where I’ve seen the ballpark really well.
“I don’t know why that is. It’s just one of those special ballparks. I feel like, for a power hitter, if you can see it and you can barrel it, it shouldn’t matter the size of the ballpark.”
The Royals have agreed to a two-year, $12MM contract with free agent first baseman/outfielder Brandon Moss, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). The deal is pending a physical. ESPN’s Jim Bowden first reported earlier Sunday that Kansas City was nearing an agreement with Moss, an ACES client.
Signing with the Royals will keep the 33-year-old Moss in Missouri, where he played the past season-plus as a member of the Cardinals. In 2016, his only full campaign in St. Louis, the powerful Moss slugged 28 home runs in 464 plate appearances and posted a .259 ISO.
For those not keeping up with Fat Joe’s career post-Terror Squad, he has reinvented himself as the master of the slider and death to all RHB.
Blanton was effective in the Royals’ bullpen, and when he was traded to the Pirates at the trade deadline, he was again successful in a relief role. During the following offseason, he signed a modest one-year, $4 million deal with the Dodgers and was, again, successful pitching out of the bullpen.
Since 2015, Blanton has appeared in 107 games, all as a reliever. In that time he ranks 11th in ERA (2.29) among all relievers, 24th in FIP (3.02) and 26th in K-BB% (19.1 points).
So what’s strange — in an era during which we hear more interest and talk about teams relying more heavily on their bullpens, when we saw inspired bullpen usage by the Cleveland Indians and other clubs in the postseason — what’s strange is Blanton remains available in free agency.
The odds of a young Yordano Ventura ever pitching in the major leagues were astronomically long. But thanks to ability that Royals officials call a gift, not to mention more than a little good fortune, the fire-throwing young man who starred in game six of the 2014 World Series could be poised to follow in the footsteps of Dominican Republic countryman Pedro Martinez.
The Royals and left-handed starter Danny Duffy on Monday agreed to a new five-year, $65 million contract that runs through the 2021 season.
Duffy could have become a free agent after the 2017 season, his final year of arbitration, but will instead make $5 million this season, $14 million in 2018, $15.25 million in 2019 and 2020 and $15.5 million in 2021.
The Royals have traded two of their would-be free agents, shipping closer Wade Davis to the Chicago Cubs for outfielder Jorge Soler during the Winter Meetings last month then dealing outfielder Jarrod Dyson to the Seattle Mariners for right-hander Nate Karns last Friday.
Soler and Karns are not sure things, but both have a certain amount of upside.
Kansas City got the starting rotation help is so desperately needed.
The Mariners got the speed they sought on the base paths.
“As so often times is the case, once teams know there is a mutual interest in a player — in their case Jarrod, in our case Nate — we just stayed in touch and the timing was right,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. “The deal was obviously attractive for us.”...
Dyson, a former 50th-round draft pick, became a fan favorite in Kansas City thanks primarily to his speed on the bases. He hit .278 while stealing 30 bases a year ago.
“We’ve had many conversations about Dyson specifically,” Dipoto said, “and what a good fit he was for our team. He’s an elite-level defender. He’s dynamic on the bases, a fearless base stealer. And the combination of Jarrod Dyson, Leonys Martin and Jean Segura hitting somewhere between the bottom and top of your lineup really creates a three-player dynamic on the bases for us that is probably different than the Mariners have had in a long time and perhaps most different than most teams in our league.”
“We’ve always liked his ability to hit with power,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said of O’Brien. “He’s got a couple of options remaining as well. So it fits in line with what we’re trying to do going forward.”
The options mean O’Brien can be stashed in the minor leagues for the next two seasons. A former catcher who has transitioned to the outfield, the 6-foot-4, 235-pound slugger lacks a natural defensive position. But the Royals also view him as a potential flier in a possible DH rotation in 2017.
“He gives up depth,” Moore said. “And we’re trying to balance the importance of winning in 2017 and, obviously, adding as much depth as we can — not only for now, but in the future.
“He’s a young position player; there’s not a lot of supply right now. So we’re trying to acquire as much quality offensive talent as we can. And he’s a player that we’ve had our eye on for a while.”
The club’s analytics department liked Soler’s ability to get on base — his walk rate (11.7 percent) would have led the Royals in 2016. The club’s talent evaluators loved his raw power and an assortment of tools that once landed him among the top 20 prospects in baseball before the 2015 season.
Rany Jazayerli explained why this isn’t true on Twitter. I’ll consolidate his tweets here because Twitter is just horrible for stuff like this.
Yes, they can. I’m getting really tired of seeing this meme everywhere. The Royals planting this story doesn’t make it true. Let me explain: No, the Royals probably can’t afford to pay $90M to 5 players next year. But that’s not what will happen. What will happen is 5 different players will each separately make a decision on whether to accept a 1 year, $18M offer. And precisely because of who those players are they likely won’t accept, because they can get more $ elsewhere - ESPECIALLY because the penalty for signing FA has dropped considerably. But let’s say they do accept, and the Royals don’t want to pay the money. Guess what? The Royals can trade the guy. Are you telling me the Royals couldn’t find a team willing to trade for Mike Moustakas or Eric Hosmer on a 1 year, $18M contract? Please. If the player isn’t worth a 1 year, $18M contract - say Lorenzo Cain has a terrible year - then you simply don’t offer him a QO. But this idea that we can’t take the risk of being stuck with a star-caliber player on a one-year deal is ridiculous. It reminds me of after the strike in 1995, when the Royals suddenly decided they couldn’t afford expensive players, and took the first offer on Brian McRae and David Cone. For McRae - a 27-year-old elite defensive CF - they got two relievers who combined to throw 8.1 more innings in the majors. And for Cone who had JUST WON THE CY YOUNG AWARD - they got utlilityman Chris Stynes and two guys who never made the majors. When you’re afraid of uncertainty, you end up making certain mistakes. If KC wants to trade veterans now to avoid a complete rebuild next year, I get it. But level with us. Don’t claim you can’t afford to offer a QO when every piece of evidence says you can, and you should.