Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas sat on the bench in Sunday afternoon’s series finale against the Mariners. He watched as his team scored nine runs without him. His replacement, Danny Valencia, went 2-for-4 out of the cleanup spot.
That could become a more frequent occurrence. Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports that the Royals will decide on Tuesday if they will demote Moustakas to Triple-A Omaha. It’s one of several scenarios in which the club would get another reliever onto the roster.
Moustakas, 25, was once a can’t-miss prospect taken in the first round (second overall) in the 2007 draft — immediately after the Rays selected David Price — but this is now his fourth season without any progress made at the plate. He sits with a .147/.215/.321 slash line and has very little projectability left. In fact, Moustakas could be a change-of-scenery candidate as he becomes eligible for arbitration for the first time after the season and will become progressively more expensive through the 2017 season before he is eligible for free agency.
The Blue Jays have released right-handed reliever John Axford from his minor league contract, per an announcement on Saturday. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi speculates that the move could provide an avenue for the club to rework Axford’s contract, but the Blue Jays have yet to confirm or deny the report.
Axford, 35, was dealt a blow on Thursday after getting diagnosed with a stress reaction in the olecranon bone of his right elbow. Elbow soreness dogged the right-hander through much of his time in camp, and although he was scheduled for a follow-up examination later this spring, a definite return date had not been established.
Prior to the diagnosis, Axford was tabbed for a setup role with the team in 2019. He pitched to mixed results in 2018 (thanks in part to a late-season fracture of his right fibula) with a 5.27 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, and 9.8 SO/9 through 54 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. Now, however, it’s not certain that he’ll return to the mound this season in any capacity.
Axford isn’t the only reliever the Blue Jays have lost to injury lately, either, as right-handers Ryan Tepera and Bud Norris have been sidelined with right elbow inflammation and forearm fatigue, respectively. Per Davidi, the Blue Jays offered Norris a $100,000 retention bonus to prevent him from opting out of the minor league contract he signed in February.