February 15, 2018 •.CBSSports.com http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/transactions LOCAL Yost isn't ruling out starters for bullpen duty
Newcomers Peralta, Hahn could be among club's options
February 14, 2018 By Jeffrey Flanagan/MLB.com
https://www.mlb.com/news/royals-could-shift-starters-to-bolster-bullpen/c-266433952 As the Royals search for options to beef up the back of their bullpen, they could look to converting some of their starters who presently are vying for the No. 5 spot in the rotation.
The Royals have a history of converting starters to back-of-the-bullpen guys, doing so with Luke Hochevar and Wade Davis.
"But remember, I wasn't planning on Wade going to the 'pen until Hoch got hurt that year [spring of 2014]," manager Ned Yost said. "We'll see it how it goes with this group. We'll get to a certain point and see what we need, and we'll make a decision then.
"Do we have some options in that respect? I sure think so."
Right-hander Wily Peralta, signed as a free agent from the Brewers, has thrown 12 times out of the bullpen in six Major League seasons. Right-hander Jesse Hahn, acquired in an offseason trade with the A's, has pitched only four times out of the bullpen in four seasons.
But while both Peralta and Hahn are vying for the No. 5 rotation spot, they also are out of options, so they'll have to make the roster somehow.
"The kink in the whole thing, and it is a good kink, are the two Rule 5 guys [Brad Keller and Burch Smith]," Yost said. "The big thing is, can they throw strikes? They've been starters and bullpen guys.
"We've got some power arms [that could be converted to the bullpen]. There's a lot of interesting things to observe."
Don't even ask
Yost continues to make an amazing recovering from a horrific fall from a tree stand last fall that fractured his pelvis.
And Yost bristled at the notion he might need a cane or a cart to move around this Spring Training.
"Come on, seriously?" Yost said. "I've already done my 30 minutes on the treadmill and will do more later. We had 30 sides yesterday and I watched every one of them. I'm moving great."
Didn't deserve it
Royals catcher Salvador Perez didn't seem too bothered about losing out for a possible fifth straight American League Gold Glove Award to Martin Maldonado of the Angels last fall.
"I didn't deserve it," Perez said. "I would have been more surprised if I had won. [Maldonado] was better."
First baseman Frank Schwindel was named the George Brett Hitter of the Year in the organization, while left-hander Foster Griffin was named the Paul Splittorff Pitcher of the Year. Both will be recognized during a ceremony later in Spring Training.
Schwindel set career highs in doubles (43), home runs (23) and RBIs (97) in 133 games with Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha.
Griffin went 11-5 with a 3.61 ERA in 18 starts following his promotion to Northwest Arkansas in 2017.
Dozier, Cuthbert among Royals' options at 1B
February 14, 2018 By Jeffrey Flanagan/MLB.com
https://www.mlb.com/news/kcs-dozier-cuthbert-among-first-base-options/c-266425064 Wednesday marked the first official workout for Royals pitchers and catchers, yet on the minds of most camp observers is the potential position battle that looms at first base.
With free agent Eric Hosmer still unsigned and Brandon Moss having been traded to the A's this offseason, the Royals have one natural first baseman on the 40-man roster: 21-year-old Samir Duenez.
Royals manager Ned Yost didn't seem overly concerned on Wednesday by the lack of experience at the position.
"We've got options," Yost said. "I can throw [Hunter Dozier] over there. I can throw [Whit Merrifield] over there, or [Ryan O'Hearn] or [Frank Schwindel]. I can throw [Cheslor Cuthbert] there, too."
Dozier, 26, might be the most curious option. A first-round pick in the 2013 Draft, Dozier was selected as a shortstop before moving to third base in the Minors. Since then, he also has played corner outfield and first base.
Yost said Dozier's focus early in camp will be at first base.
"He'll take a lot of ground balls there," Yost said. "He's athletic. He can adjust to the outfield, to first base. We bounced him around a lot last year. But we're going to concentrate with him at first base early."
Dozier, ranked as the team's No. 3 prospect by MLB Pipeline, simply is eager for the opportunity to make the big league roster.
"Absolutely it's an opportunity," Dozier said. "Coming up in this organization with Moose [Mike Moustakas] and [Hosmer], two All-Stars at third and first, you don't have much opportunity. We don't know what will happen yet with those guys but yeah, it's an opportunity. I worked hard in the offseason knowing the situation."
Cuthbert, who seems likely to take over for Moustakas at third base, impressed the coaching staff with a trial run at first base last Spring Training. Cuthbert remembered to bring his first-base mitt to camp.
"I'm comfortable there," Cuthbert said. "I've played there in the Minors, too."
O'Hearn, 24, is the team's No. 14 prospect. He hit a combined 22 home runs for Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha in 2017.
Schwindel, 25, had his breakthrough season last year, hitting .350 at Northwest Arkansas with six home runs before being promoted to Omaha, where he hit .321 with 17 home runs and 30 doubles.
"We got some talented kids," Yost said. "I'm excited to see how they perform."
The Royals are waiting on Eric Hosmer. Here’s their contingency plan at first base
February 14, 2018 By Rustin Dodd/KC Star
http://www.kansascity.com/sports/mlb/kansas-city-royals/article200110599.html At the front of the clubhouse here, a row of locker stalls that once belonged to stars has been re-assigned to younger players. This is where Eric Hosmer made his home each spring, not far from the lockers of Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain, just around the corner from the front doorway.
On Wednesday morning, as Royals pitchers and catchers prepared for their first day of spring camp, catcher Salvador Perez stood in a corner of the clubhouse and gazed over at the empty wall.
“I knew these guys when I was 16 years old, 17 years old,” he said. “It’s different.”
The reality could not be ignored as the Royals organization gathered here for the start of another spring. The clubhouse turnover is evident. Young faces dot the room. Yet players and coaches are not quite ready to turn the page.
Hosmer is not here, of course, a glaring absence after a decade-long marriage that produced a World Series championship and a baseball renaissance in Kansas City. But among club officials and old teammates, there remains hope that he will be.
“Of course, I want him back,” Royals manager Ned Yost said, addressing reporters for the first time on Wednesday. “That goes without saying. But there’s certain aspects of this game that I can’t control.”
Hosmer is still at home, still a free agent after a long and slow winter. The Royals are still in pursuit, still engaged in conversations with his representatives as spring camps begin in Arizona and Florida.
The only other public suitor remains the San Diego Padres, who reportedly resumed discussions in the last week. The process has now dragged past the offseason and into a new year. The Padres front office is said to have “fallen in love” with Hosmer, according to a report this week from the San Diego Union-Tribune. The Royals’ own adoration for Hosmer is well documented.
But for now, the club is also making contingency plans. Yost said Wednesday that Hunter Dozier, a third baseman and former first-round pick, will open camp working primarily at first base. Other options include third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert, second baseman Whit Merrifield and prospects Ryan O’Hearn and Frank Schwindel. The latter two players are here as non-roster invitees and not members of the 40-man roster. That the list of options includes two other potential starters in Cuthbert and Merrifield underscores the lack of depth at the position.
The Royals are set to open camp with just one first baseman on their 40-man roster. His name is Samir Duenez, a 21-year-old who spent last season at Class AA Northwest Arkansas.
The setup could create opportunity for Dozier, 26, who has spent most of the last two seasons blocked at the major-league level and battling injuries at Class AAA Omaha. In 2016, he batted .296 with 23 homers while splitting time at Omaha and Northwest Arkansas, earning a September callup. Last year, his season was derailed by an oblique strain in late March and he appeared in just 33 games. On Wednesday, he appeared ready for any possibility.
“I’m more comfortable at third right now, just because I’m played it more than another other position,” Dozier said. “But like I said, I’m working hard at first and outfield, and I’m starting to feel really well at those positions.”
In a minor-league career that has spanned five seasons, Dozier has started just 11 games at first base. He played shortstop as a college standout at Stephen F. Austin in Texas. He spent most of his professional career at third base before the presence of Moustakas and Cuthbert spurred an experiment in the outfield.
Yet when full-squad workouts open here on Monday, he will likely spend most of his days toting a first baseman’s mitt around the complex.
“He’ll work primarily at first base early for sure,” Yost said. “He adjusted to the outfield really, really quickly, because he is athletic, and he can adapt. He looked fine playing first base some last spring, too. He’ll be OK.”
At 6 feet 4 and 220 pounds, Dozier has the frame and body type to offer a solid target at first base. Yost has likened him to Corey Hart, a power hitter whom he managed with the Milwaukee Brewers. Hart, a solid offensive performer, began his career as a third baseman before transitioning to the outfield and playing one season at first base. Dozier offers similar flexibility, though the Royals will experiment with alignments this spring.
Cuthbert, who is expected to replace Moustakas at third base, has also offered glimpses of defensive promise — or at least respectability — at first base. O’Hearn and Schwindel have produced a varying levels in the minor leagues.
O’Hearn, 24, has batted .278 with an .844 OPS in four seasons since being drafted in the eighth round out of Sam Houston State. Schwindel, 25, an 18th-round pick out of St. John’s in 2013, had a breakout season in 2017, batting .321 with an .868 OPS and 17 homers in 99 games at Omaha.
The uncertainty at first base would vanish if the Royals re-sign Hosmer. That much is obvious. As Yost sat in his office on Wednesday morning, he scoffed as a reporter noted this.
“My God,” Yost said. “How freaking obvious is that freaking statement.”
For now, though, Hosmer is not here. And that means a competition at first base. And for the first time, Dozier could have an opportunity to win a spot on the opening day roster.
“It’s the first day of spring training,” Yost said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. I wouldn’t say it’s anybody’s job to lose. What I would say is he’s going to get an opportunity to compete for it today.”
Padres resume talks with Eric Hosmer, prepared to make room at first base for him
February 14, 2018 By Pete Grathoff/KC Star
http://www.kansascity.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/for-petes-sake/article200044734.html While free agent Eric Hosmer remains unsigned, that doesn’t mean things are quiet.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the Padres resumed talks with Hosmer last week and remain optimistic about their chances of signing him. Kevin Acee wrote that “the Padres personnel department has fallen in love with Hosmer — his ability to get on base and his character.”
USA Today reported in January that the Padres made a seven-year, $140 million offer to Hosmer, while the Royals had offered the same number of years but $7 million more. However, sources with the Royals said the team’s offer was closer to $140 million, while Dennis Lin of The Athletic has reported that the Padres’ offer was for less money than what has been reported.
Padres executive chairman and co-owner Ron Fowler has said that the team was “pretty creative” in its offer for Hosmer.
But here’s the thing: The Padres already have an All-Star at first base, former Royals prospect Wil Myers. On Tuesday, San Diego manager Andy Green told MLB.com that Myers will be playing first base when the full camp opens on Monday.
“He’s going to come into camp as a first baseman, right now,” Green said of Myers. “But we’ll tell him to bring his outfield glove along with him.”
Myers was drafted by the Royals as a catcher in the 2009 draft. He moved to the outfield in 2011, playing mostly in right field. That was where he played with the Rays when Myers made his major-league debut in 2013.
After being traded to the Padres in 2015, Myers moved to first base full-time in the 2016 season.
“I’ve watched every ball Wil caught ... in Tampa,” Green told MLB.com. “He’s going to be fine adjusting back to the outfield. It’s not going to take a long amount of time for him to get comfortable back out there. We don’t have this fear that if something were to happen and Wil moved to the outfield, that he has to do it at the beginning of camp.”
If something were to happen, and the Padres signed Hosmer, the team has many reasons to covet Hosmer, who was the 2016 All-Star Game MVP and a key member of the Royals’ 2015 World Series Championship team.
Here is what Acee wrote about the Padres’ thinking on Hosmer:
But with the Padres harboring a goal of contention perhaps as early as 2019 and no later than 2020, the 28-year-old Hosmer would still be in his prime years as the franchise begins what it believes will be an extended window wherein their highly touted prospects make them annual championship contenders.
Further, Hosmer could immediately begin to rub off on the young players and further what the Padres believe is a burgeoning chemistry on the club.
The team’s background work talking with several dozen coaches, players and others who know Hosmer has turned up exclusively positive reports regarding his work ethic and leadership abilities. Additionally, Hosmer is bilingual, which would be a commodity in connecting in an increasingly Latin-infused clubhouse.
Those traits are in addition, of course, to what the Padres think he can do on the field.
‘I don’t need a cane:’ Ned Yost ready to take on Royals’ rebuild after scary fall
February 14, 2018 By Rustin Dodd/KC Star
http://www.kansascity.com/sports/mlb/kansas-city-royals/article200137124.html On Ned Yost’s first day as Royals manager, Eric Hosmer was a 20-year-old first baseman in Wilmington, N.C. Mike Moustakas was 21 and destroying opposing pitchers in Northwest Arkansas. Lorenzo Cain was 24 and a center fielder in Huntsville, Ala., plying his trade in the Milwaukee Brewers organization.
Nearly eight years later, Cain is back with the Brewers and Hosmer and Moustakas are at home, still waiting out a slow free-agent market, but on Wednesday morning Yost was still here, sitting behind his desk in a sparsely decorated office on the first day of spring training.
He is 62 years old now, 20 pounds lighter after a winter of inactivity following a harrowing fall on his farm in Georgia. This is his eighth spring training here on the outskirts of Phoenix. Yet as change takes root here outside Surprise Stadium, as an organization prepares for another arduous rebuild, as young players replace old staples, Yost remains at the center of it all, bracing for another project in his 15th season as a major-league manager.
“It takes a different energy,” he said.
On Wednesday, Yost declared that he still possessed that energy. Three months ago, he was confined to a recliner in his home in rural Georgia, his shattered pelvis held together by steel rods, his mind altered by pain-killing drugs. On the first day of camp, he walked without a limp, ambling to watch 32 pitchers and seven catchers work out for the first time. In the morning, he said, he had spent 30 minutes on the treadmill, adhering to his normal routine. He planned more exercise later. He dismissed questions about his physical state.
“C’mon, seriously?” Yost said. “I don’t need a cane or a walker.”
The Royals open camp with plenty of questions, of course. Hosmer and Moustakas are still free agents and therefore still available. There are open competitions all around the field, including center field and third base. The bullpen is a blank canvas on which to build. The first full-squad workout is scheduled for Monday.
Yost, however, is seeking to embrace the energy that comes from uncertainty, to harness the focus that stems from competition. In the last five seasons, the Royals averaged 86 victories while appearing in two World Series and claiming the second world championship in franchise history. On Wednesday, Yost said the club would wear its official spring training tops for each workout because he wanted to make sure fans could see the names printed on the back. He’s still putting faces with names, he said.
“There’s probably a higher level of excitement (in camp) because of the new guys,” Yost said. “I’m interested and excited to see what they bring to the table. Because normally, we’d be pretty set this time of year. We’d have a pretty good idea who the bullpen was going to be, who was going to be playing first base, center field, right field, third base.
“It’s a little bit different this year.”
The changes are not limited to the roster. Seeking to revamp its staff for the rebuild, the Royals brought in four new coaches and recast the duties of others. Former hitting coach Dale Sveum has moved into the role of bench coach, while Cal Eldred will guide the pitching staff and long-time minor-league hitting coach Terry Bradshaw will take over with the big-league team. Vance Wilson, a former manager at Class AA Northwest Arkansas, is the new bullpen coach, while former Royal Mitch Maier has replaced first-base coach Rusty Kuntz, who is still here in camp as a roving instructor. All four new coaches were in the organization last season. And this is, in part, by design. All are familiar, in varying degrees, with the club’s young players.
“I was always comfortable with the staff last year,” Yost said. “But every once and a while, change is good in that respect. Get some different ideas.”
For all the changes taking shape, for all the differences in vibe and expectation, old figures remain. Left-hander Danny Duffy worked out Wednesday with a beard covering his face. He will headline the rotation. He has not changed. Same for catcher Salvador Perez, who arrived in camp earlier this month with the same svelte figure he sought to craft and maintain last year.
Alex Gordon will start in left field. Shortstop Alcides Escobar re-signed on a one-year deal. Yost is still hopeful that Hosmer will return. Squint your eyes and you can still see remnants of the 2015 world champions. Still, Yost did not shy away from one theme on Wednesday. For years, the Royals were in development mode, and then the core grew up, and Hosmer, Moustakas, Cain and Perez all played in All-Star games, and the mode turned to “maintenance.” The goal was winning.
“It reverts all the way back — boom — to the development side again,” Yost said. “Now here we go. You need the fresh ideas. You need to address every situation that happens.
“How do you play the game properly? How do you play the game to win?”
For the moment, Yost is back in his element. He is guiding young players again. He is teaching. He has one year remaining on his contract. He has beaten back a shattered pelvis, and really, once you do that and sit in a recliner for 18 hours a day, what’s losing a few baseball games? What’s another rebuild?
“Moving around great,” he said.
The Royals, of course, do not have plans to lose. Not if they can help it. And so sometime after arriving at camp, Perez locked eyes with his manager here in Arizona. Months ago, Perez had learned of Yost’s fall back home, and the news stunned him.
“What are you doing?” Perez remembers thinking.
He called catching coach Pedro Grifol for an update. He saw Yost moving around at FanFest and felt better. But when he showed up to camp, he noticed something. The spark had returned.
“He’s looking different here,” Perez said. “He’s more ready.”