Jul 142013

by John Viril—

The Kansas City Royals made some odd choices with their pitching staff before Sunday’s 6-4 loss against Cleveland. In the finale before the All-Star break, the Royals designated reliever J.C. Gutierrez for assignment to make room for Wade Davis’ return from paternity leave. Donnie Joseph, who had replaced Davis on the roster, was sent back to AAA Omaha in favor of fellow lefty Everett Teaford.

The whole series of moves seems strange.

J.C. Gutierrez has no minor league options left. By designating him to assignment, the Royals are exposing him to waivers—knowing that Gutierrez has been too effective to pass through without getting claimed (3.38 ERA in 25 IP). Gutierrez has shown a career high 95 mph fastball this season. Manager Ned Yost told beat reporter Dick Kaegel, “Guty’s going to get picked up. I don’t see him getting through waivers with that arm.”

That begs the question why the Royals kept recently recalled Louis Coleman on the roster, when he has minor league options available rather than expose J.C. Gutierrez to waivers. But, Yost said he likes what he has seen from Coleman, and added, “Kelvin Herrera is getting close to coming off [his Minor League assignment] and we had to make a move, so we made it with J.C.”

To me, there are two possibilities: 1) the Royals are already working on a trade for Gutierrez and expect the deal to get done at the All-Star game 0r 2) Dayton Moore and Yost know their jobs are in jeopardy and believe that the current bullpen construction gives them a slightly better chance to win games.

Between the two, I think the first is most likely. Given all the teams in the playoff hunt with the extra wild-card team added this season, SOMEONE has to be willing to surrender a low-level prospect for a serviceable bullpen arm. DFA’ing J.C. Gutierrez before a deal is in place, would ruin the Royals bargaining power.

With the team’s current 5-game losing streak headed into the All-Star break, you have to expect Moore to recognize the Royals need to be sellers as the trade deadline approaches. However, Moore may not have the freedom to make that choice if he knows he must win THIS season to keep his job.

Moore’s behavior in the coming two weeks will tell us a lot about his job security.

 Posted by at 2:55 pm

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