The Royals signed right-hander Kyle Zimmer to a one-year major league contract, the team announced Friday. It’s a split deal, according to MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan, who says Zimmer is due the minimum $555,000 if he sticks in the majors and $124,000 if the club chooses to stash him in the minors again.
It’s been a slow and arduous road to the Show for the 27-year-old righty, who has yet to reach the majors after six years in the Royals’ farm system. In 2016, he underwent surgery to treat thoracic outlet syndrome in his pitching arm, then worked his way up to Triple-A Omaha for the first time in 2017. He didn’t pitch a single inning at any level in 2018, however, opting instead to undergo an intensive training program with Driveline Baseball in the hopes that he could avoid additional shoulder and arm injuries going forward. It’s clear the Royals saw enough progress from Zimmer that they feel he’ll be capable of handling a major-league role come spring, though he also has an option remaining on his contract should things start to go south again.
In a corresponding move, corner infielder Cheslor Cuthbert has been designated for assignment. The 26-year-old rounded out a four-year campaign with the Royals in 2018, slashing a career-worst .194/.282/.301 with three home runs and seven RBI across 117 PA.
The Yankees appear to have moved on from free agent Manny Machado this winter, but could they be turning their attention to Rockies superstar Nolan Arenado? That’s the idea floated by Andy Martino of SNY, who hears that GM Brian Cashman has been involved in recent discussions concerning the third baseman. No official comments have been made to the press yet, though, and it’s not clear whether the Yankees would prefer to pursue Arenado prior to the 2019 season or partway through it.
The 27-year-old infielder earned his fourth consecutive All-Star nomination, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove award in 2018 after slashing .297/.374/.561 with 38 home runs, a .935 OPS, and 5.7 fWAR across 673 plate appearances. There’s no question he’s provided immense value to Colorado’s lineup over the last half-decade, and his consistency and incredible power at the plate helped form the basis of the record $30 million arbitration figure he presented to the team last week. The Rockies countered at $24 million, however, and in doing so may have jeopardized their chances of convincing the infielder to forego free agency in 2020 and take a long-term deal instead.
Assuming he declines to negotiate an extension with the Rockies, Arenado’s decorated résumé and career-best 2018 numbers should attract plenty of interest around the league — a reality that could put considerable pressure on the Yankees (or any other interested party) to finesse a deal sooner rather than later. For now, the club is prepared to enter the 2019 season with hot-hitting third baseman Miguel Andújar, whom Martino speculates would be the “centerpiece” of any trade with Colorado.