Last-place Royals downgrade to Kendall

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kendall elbow.jpgThe Royals got 31 homers and 101 RBI in 618 plate appearances from their two primary catchers on their way to finishing 65-97 last season. Now they’re going to someone who had two homers and 43 RBI in 526 plate appearances.
That’s the way it is in Kansas City. Dayton Moore’s two biggest priorities after taking over the club in 2006 should have been acquiring long-term options at shortstop and catcher, two spots which the Royals have generally filled with spare parts and subpar veterans through the years. Finding cornerstone players at those spots is notoriously difficult, of course. But Moore is like a blind man playing darts.
So, now we get Kendall, apparently on a two-year, $4 million contract. He’s 35, he’s hit in the .240s three straight years and he hasn’t slugged as high as .350 since 2004, his last year in Pittsburgh. That his OBP is still adequate is largely due to the intentional and unintentional walks he received while hitting in front of the pitcher for the Brewers. In his last stint in the American League, he hit .226/.261/.281 in 80 games with Oakland to begin 2007. By any measure, he’s one of the game’s weakest regulars offensively.
Whether he’s an asset defensively depends on who you ask. The Brewers seemed happy with him for the most part, though they made no effort to re-sign him this winter. He was often criticized for his glove towards the end of his Oakland tenure. Incredibly, he threw out 43 percent of basestealers in 2008. However, he came in at nine percent in 2007 and 20 percent last year.
That Kendall is getting a two-year contract is pretty remarkable, and it seems rather likely that he’ll be the Royals’ Opening Day starter. Olivo won’t be back as a free agent, and it’s long been assumed that Buck would be non-tendered prior to Saturday’s deadline.
Now, the Royals had no chance to go out and find themselves a long-term catcher in free agency, but there were alternatives. Before he was traded to Tampa Bay, Kelly Shoppach was available for next to nothing. Dioner Navarro still might be. Arizona’s Chris Snyder is another who would cost little. It is possible Moore will go out and get someone to pair with Kendall, perhaps even someone who would do the bulk of the catching. But it’s not like he deserves the benefit of the doubt at this point.
Update – The deal is actually worth $6 million, according to The Associated Press. Also, it’s being reported that the Royals are releasing Buck.

Shapiro, Murray defend Dellin Betances after arbitration feud

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Dellin Betances #68 of the New York Yankees and the American League pitches against the National League during the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The dust hasn’t quite settled after right-hander Dellin Betances‘ arbitration hearing with the Yankees on Saturday. The case was decided in the team’s favor, awarding Betances with a $3 million salary for the 2017 season instead of the $5 million he initially requested. Yankees’ president Randy Levine held a press conference to voice his outrage over the figure presented by Betances and his agency, saying it had “no bearings in reality” since Betances does not have the elite closer status required for a salary bump of that magnitude.

Needless to say, the comments caused some consternation within Betances’ camp. The reliever publicly addressed the outburst, telling the press that he was prepared to put his differences with the team aside until he heard what Levine had to say. Via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:

Players union executive Rick Shapiro and Betances’ agent, Jim Murray, also spoke out in the right-hander’s favor. Shapiro presented Betances’ case during the hearing on Saturday and called Levine’s comments “an absolute disgrace to the arbitration process and to all of Major League Baseball.” In a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Shapiro added: “The only thing that has been unprecedented in the last 36 hours is that a club official, after winning a case, called a news conference to effectively gloat about his victory – that’s unprecedented.”

Murray spoke exclusively to Rosenthal, accusing the president of effectively bullying the 28-year-old during the arbitration process and claiming that Levine had both mispronounced Betances’ name throughout the hearing and blamed the reliever for “declining ticket sales and their lack of playoff history.” Like Betances, Murray said that the agency was ready to accept the arbiter’s decision and move on before Levine’s decision to air his grievances to the media. “The only person overreaching in this entire situation is Randy,” Murray told Rosenthal. “He might as well be an astronaut because nobody on earth would agree with what he is saying. Even the others in the room would disagree with him.”

Royals will experiment with Alex Gordon in all three outfield spots this year

CLEVELAND, OH -  MAY 7: Alex Gordon #4 of the Kansas City Royals reacts to a fan while on first base during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on May 7, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Royals’ manager Ned Yost is shaking things up in 2017, starting with left fielder Alex Gordon. Yost told MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that “every scenario is open,” and expects to utilize Gordon in right and center field this spring while he figures out where to position Jorge Soler and Brandon Moss.

Gordon, 33, hasn’t manned right field since a three-game experiment with the Royals back in 2010 and has yet to play center field during any regular season to date. The focus, however, isn’t on Gordon’s capabilities. Among the three outfielders, he carries the best defensive profile and appears to be the most versatile of the bunch.

According to Flanagan, Soler and Moss are average on defense and will continue working closely with Royals’ coach Rusty Kuntz as the season approaches. One arrangement could see Gordon in center field, flanked by Soler in right field and Moss in left, though Yost foresees Soler taking some reps at DH if his defensive chops aren’t up to snuff.

While Moss is prepared to see starts at either outfield corner, Yost appears to be set on keeping Soler in right field, at least for the time being. The club is hoping for a bounce-back season from the 24-year-old outfielder, who was acquired from the Cubs in December after batting a lackluster .238/.333/.436 and sustaining a slew of minor injuries throughout the 2016 season.