Diving into the depths: Kansas City Royals

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
Kansas City Royals
Rotation
1. Zack Greinke
2. Gil Meche
3. Brian Bannister
4. Luke Hochevar
5. Kyle Davies
6. Robinson Tejeda
7. Kyle Farnsworth
8. Jorge Campillo
9. Bruce Chen
10. Anthony Lerew
11. Brad Thompson
12. Blake Johnson
13. Blake Wood
14. Aaron Crow
15. Noel Arguelles
Bannister and Davies are due a combined $4.1 million this year, so both figure to have spots in the rotation. Still, it’d be a shame if Tejeda is left out after going 3-1 with a 2.84 ERA in six starts at the end of last season. He has more upside than the three pitchers above him. Odds are that he’ll start off in the bullpen and then get another look as a starter come May or June.
Bullpen
1. Joakim Soria
2. Carlos Rosa
3. Kyle Farnsworth
4. Juan Cruz
5. Robinson Tejeda
6. Roman Colon
7. Brad Thompson
8. Matt Herges
9. Victor Marte
10. Dusty Hughes
11. Bruce Chen
12. Philip Humber
13. Jorge Campillo
14. Anthony Lerew
15. Edgar Osuna
16. John Parrish
17. Josh Rupe
18. Bryan Bullington
19. Adam Bostick
20. Francisco Rosario
Unless either Farnsworth or Tejeda can win a place in the rotation, the Royals would seem to have six spots spoken for here. I’m putting Thompson and Herges next, but the team doesn’t currently have a lefty penciled into the bullpen. Hughes, Chen, Osuna and Parrish could compete for the role unless the team signs a veteran.


Catcher
1. Jason Kendall
2. Brayan Pena
3. Vance Wilson
4. Edwin Bellorin
First base
1. Billy Butler
2. Wilson Betemit
3. Kila Ka’aihue
4. Josh Fields
5. Scott Thorman
Second base
1. Alberto Callaspo
2. Chris Getz
3. Mike Aviles
4. Willie Bloomquist
5. Jeff Bianchi
Third base
1. Alex Gordon
2. Josh Fields
3. Alberto Callaspo
4. Willie Bloomquist
5. Wilson Betemit
6. Mario Lisson
Shortstop
1. Yuniesky Betancourt
2. Willie Bloomquist
3. Mike Aviles
4. Mario Lisson
Getz’s defense might get him the nod over Callaspo at second base, though the Royals would be benching their second-best hitter from 2009 if they went that route. If they truly feel that strongly about Callaspo’s defense, they’d still probably be better off starting him at DH over Jose Guillen.
Left field
1. Scott Podsednik
2. Willie Bloomquist
3. Brian Anderson
4. Jordan Parraz
5. Buck Coats
Center field
1. Rick Ankiel
2. Willie Bloomquist
3. Brian Anderson
4. Mitch Maier
5. Jarrod Dyson
Right field
1. David DeJesus
2. Jose Guillen
3. Willie Bloomquist
4. Brian Anderson
5. Josh Fields
Designated hitter
1. Jose Guillen
2. Josh Fields
3. Alberto Callaspo
4. Wilson Betemit
5. Kila Ka’aihue
It’s a lineup that includes one sure thing in DeJesus, an emerging star in Butler and six question marks. And Kendall. Bloomquist is the only player guaranteed a bench spot. Another will go to Pena or Wilson as Kendall’s backup. That leaves two openings for the loser in the Callaspo-Getz competition, Fields, Aviles, Betemit, Anderson and Maier. I’d say Getz and Fields have the advantages there, but if Aviles shows he’s healthy after Tommy John surgery, a Callaspo trade will become a strong possibility.

Diamondbacks working on a deal with Tyler Clippard

at Citi Field on July 28, 2015 in Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.
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Last week Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart revealed that he was interested in signing free agent reliever Tyler Clippard and now Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the two sides have “made progress toward a deal.”

Piecoro notes that by trading Aaron Hill and his remaining contract to the Brewers the Diamondbacks created a bit of payroll flexibility that they could use to sign Clippard.

Clippard has a long history of excellent work as both a setup man and closer, but his raw stuff and secondary numbers have declined even though his ERA remained very good at 2.92 last season for the A’s and Mets. His strikeout rate dipped to a career-low 8.1 per nine innings, which is drop of about 25 percent from 2009-2014.

Two elite Cuban players defect

cuba hat
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Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com just reported that Yulieski Gurriel & Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who are brothers, reportedly defected and will be seeking MLB deals. There aren’t any details yet, but Sanchez will be updating with a full story that we’ll link here when he has it. UPDATE: Here it is.

Yulieski is a 31-year old third baseman and, according to Baseball America’s Ben Badler he was the No. 1 player remaining in Cuba. He was one of the Cuban players who was permitted to play in Japan recently, and he just put up a .305/.349/.536 season with 11 homers in 62 games for the Yokohama Bay Stars and has continued to rake in Cuba. He is likely major league ready right this instant. He’d be an unrestricted free agent given his age and team’s signing him would not be subject to international bonus pool limits.

Lourdes is only 22 years old. He’s hit .269/.355/.414 in 1036 Serie Nacional plate appearances and Badler thinks he has 20-homer potential in the majors one day. He’s currently a shortstop, but is probably destined for a corner. He is young enough to where he would be subject to bonus pool limits. Several teams have already exceeded those limits for the current signing period, limiting the number of teams who could sign him. If, however, it takes MLB a long time to clear him as a free agent — and with immigration issues and the like, that’s very possible — he may not be eligible to be signed until next year, which could bring some other teams into the fold.

 

Indians close to signing ex-Nationals reliever Craig Stammen

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Right-hander Craig Stammen, who spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Nationals, is expected to sign with the Indians.

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Indians “hope to finalize a deal” with Stammen today, adding veteran depth to the bullpen. It’ll likely be a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Stammen missed nearly all of last season following elbow surgery and the Nationals non-tendered him, but he’s scheduled to be ready for spring training. After struggling as a starter early in his career he’s posted a 3.02 ERA in 280 innings out of the bullpen, so if healthy it’d be a nice addition for Cleveland.

A Mexican team wins the Caribbean Series for the third time in four years

Mexican players celebrate their victory in the Caribbean Series baseball final against Aragua Tigres of Venezuela, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. Designated hitter Jorge Vazquez hit a game-winning home run leading off the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday, lifting Mexico's Venados de Mazatlan to a 5-4 come-from-behind victory and the championship of the Caribbean Series. (AP Photo/Roberto Guzman)
Associated Press
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For those who aren’t familiar, Serie del Caribe, or the Caribbean Series, is the highest club level baseball tournament in Latin America, pitting the champions of the winter leagues in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela against one another in a bacchanalia of baseball that, if there was justice in the world, we’d all be watching instead of football.

This year’s installment ended last night with Mexico’s Mazatlan Venados beating Venezuela’s Aragua Tigres 5-4 in the final game at Estadio Quisqueya in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Jorge Vazquez — who Yankees fans may remember from a few years back — provided the winning margin when he hit a home run to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning.

This is the third Serie del Caribe title for a Mexican club in the past four years, with Naranjeros de Hermosillo winning in 2014 and Yaquis de Obregón winning in 2013. Pinar del Río from Cuba won it last winter. This is the first time the Venados have won it.

As we noted yesterday, this was longtime MLB starter Freddy Garcia‘s last game. He gave up four hits and allowed two earned runs over five and a third innings for the Tigres, getting a no-decision.