The KC Royals made a flurry of roster moves before the 8pm ET deadline to set 40-man rosters.
First, they re-signed backup catcher Drew Butera to a two-year deal. Butera, who hit .285 in 2016, will make a total of $3.8 million over the next two seasons. The Royals will pay him $1.5 million in 2017 and $2.3 million in 2018.
That put the Royals roster to 38 players.
They then designated catcher Tony Cruz (who spent most of the 2016 season in Triple-A Omaha) for assignment, along with lefty reliever Tim Collins. Collins, who is coming back from his second straight Tommy John surgery, elected to become a free agent.
Those two moves opened up the Royals roster so they could protect the following four players:
Starter Jake Junis, who was the Royals Double-A Pitcher of the Year (3.25 ERA in 21 starts with 117 strikeouts). He struggled in six starts after being promoted to Triple-A. Junis has always been an innings-eater and could crack the Royals rotation at some point in 2017.
- Right-handed reliever Andrew Edwards, who dominated in Double-A (23 strikeouts in 18 innings with a 0.50 ERA) before having an up-and-down finish with Omaha (29 walks and 51 strikeouts in 43.1 innings with a 5.40 ERA). Edwards’ velocity has increased over the last two seasons and he fits the Royals mold of hard-throwing relievers.
- Catcher Cam Gallagher, a defensive specialist who finally hit in 2016 in his first season in Double-A (.259 in 91 games). He threw out 30 of 63 would-be base stealers.
- First baseman/DH Samir Duenez, who went from Low-A Lexington to High-A Wilmington, before finishing the season with NW Arkansas. He hit a combined .284.
Now the Royals roster is full.
Some intriguing names that the Royals left unprotected: lefty Jonathan Dziedzic, starter Luke Farrell, and lefty reliever Daniel Stumpf. Dziedzic doesn’t throw hard and had a bad 2016 season, but has pitched well so far in the Dominican Winter League. Farrell missed time in 2016 due to injury, but has pitched fairly well in the DWL. Stumpf was selected by the Phillies in the Rule 5 Draft last year, but a PED suspension set him back 80 games and he pitched poorly, so he was sent back.