There were a few Royals-related news bits that broke out yesterday, so I figured it would be an excellent time to release another edition of the “Reporter Jottings.” As you may have noticed, I have been getting in many posts over the past few days. Due to COVID, I was not originally able to travel back to Sacramento as hoped. So, I have been able to sit down and get some writing done, as I finally fully recover.
Again, as a promotion, if you haven’t been vaccinated, please do so. The symptoms I got were very mild, and I think my vaccination and boosters were a big reason why I wasn’t waylaid more than typical. It’s really blowing up this Christmas season, and I can imagine it only getting worse with so many gatherings during the holidays.
Anyways, here we go to this edition of Royals-related Jottings.
Mitch Stetter Named Royals Bullpen Coach
The Royals seem close, if not done, when it comes to rounding out their coaching staff, as Anne Rogers, the Royals’ MLB.com beat writer announced that Mitch Stetter would be the bullpen coach for the upcoming season.
I was a bit surprised by the move, as the Royals had seemed to opt for coaches outside of the organization outside the initial internal ones who were retained (assistant hitting coach Keoni Derenne; hitting coach Alec Zumwalt; first base coach Damon Hollins).
This has been especially true on the pitching end, as the Royals have not only hired Brian Sweeney to be the pitching coach (from Cleveland), but also Zach Bove from the Twins organization to be the assistant pitching coach. I would have figured that the Royals would continue that trend with the bullpen coach, but it seems like JJ Picollo and Matt Quatraro are settled on Stetter, who worked more on the Minor League pitching development end of things with the Royals a season ago.
Granted, it seems like Stetter’s background does fit in the mold of what Picollo is trying to build at the MLB level in terms of staffing. Furthermore, Rogers also alluded in her Tweet thread that he has plenty of experience with the young arms in the system, which could be beneficial since the Royals will be depending on many of them to take the next step in 2023, much like Brady Singer last season.
I will give Picollo and Stetter the benefit of the doubt here, as his familiarity with young arms such as Jackson Kowar, Kris Bubic, Jon Heasley, and Daniel Lynch should be helpful, especially for a new manager, pitching coach, and assistant pitching coach.
That said, it will be interesting to see if Stetter can shed the reputation of the Royals’ Minor League pitching development team from a year ago, and have a stronger impact at the Major League level with the Royals pitching staff and bullpen in 2023.
Royals Sign Reliever Mike Mayers to Minor League Deal
In a relatively under-the-radar news item on Thursday night, the Royals’ official Twitter announced the signing of former Cardinals draft pick and Angels reliever Mike Mayers, who was DFA’d twice last season by Los Angeles.
Mayers has accumulated 236.1 innings pitched in 198 games over seven MLB seasons, which includes four with St. Louis and three with Los Angeles. The 31-year-old right-hander wasn’t great last year with the Angels, as he generated a 5.68 ERA and -0.9 fWAR in 24 appearances (including three starts) and 50.2 IP. On a positive note though, his K/BB ratio was pretty decent at 2.50, and he is not far removed from solid campaigns in 2020 and 2021 with the Angels.
During the COVID-shortened season, Mayers posted a 2.10 ERA and a K/9 of 12.9 in 30 IP. In 2021, his ERA was 3.84 and his K/9 was 10.8. If Mayers can get back to that form, he could be a solid reliever in the middle innings for the Royals and could situate in the right-handed setup mix possibly with Dylan Coleman and Taylor Clarke.
A big issue for Mayers last year was that he didn’t use his cutter as effectively as he did in 2020 and 2021. After his cutter posted a usage rate of 24.2 percent in 2020 and 30.3 percent in 2021, according to Savant, it dropped to 8.3 percent in 2022. Granted, the pitch only generated a K rate of 4.5 percent in 2022, which was an 18 percent decrease from the previous year.
Here is also a look at Andrew Benintendi (with the Yankees) taking advantage of a rare, poorly commanded cutter from Mayers last August at Angels Stadium.
Thus, it makes sense why Mayers scrapped the pitch in favor of more usage of his four-seamer, though that pitch wasn’t all that effective either (18.1 percent put-away rate, a 9.7 percent decline from 2021).
Mayers may be around for Triple-A depth, and the best-case scenario is that he could be a Minor League bullpen Wild Card who could fill a spot in a pinch much like Matt Peacock, Arodys Vizcaino, and Daniel Mengden a year ago. He is out of Minor League options, so if he does make the team out of Spring Training, the Royals won’t be able to send him down to Omaha without designating him for assignment.
Hosmer and Moustakas Now Available (Will Royals Bite?)
Two Royals fan favorites and key members of the 2015 World Series squad are no longer with the teams they played for last season.
Eric Hosmer was designated for assignment last week, and just today, the Red Sox announced that he has officially been released from the organization. That means Hosmer is officially a free agent.
Also today, in a move to add Curt Casali to the roster, the Cincinnati Reds announced that they would be designating Mike Moustakas for assignment. Moustakas still has roughly $22 million left remaining on his deal, which it seems the Reds are more than willing to eat at this time.
Obviously, the question on the minds of a lot of Royals fans is whether or not the Royals should bring back one or both, just for “fan” purposes. While both are on the downswing of their careers, having Moose and Hos back in Royals uniforms would certainly be a boost for the Royals on a PR end, especially with 2023 looking like a rebuilding season.
Matt Lamar of Royals Review entertained the idea of bringing back Hosmer, with the idea that he would simply be a bench bat, much like Ryan O’Hearn in 2022.
As for Moustakas, while we do not know his future just yet (it’s likely that he’ll be released), he has failed to stay healthy and effective over the past couple of seasons for the Reds. In fact, Jeff Zimmerman of Fangraphs, in his often succinct way, pointed out that Emmanuel Rivera was actually more effective than Moose in 2022 (and Rivera was traded away for Luke Weaver, who was eventually lost on waivers this offseason).
In my opinion, as tempting as it may be, the Royals should probably just lay off both. That said, if they HAD to do one, I would rather have Moose, despite Zimmerman’s sobering comparison.
First off, it is difficult to see Hosmer accepting a bench role with the Royals.
Hosmer refused to compromise a little bit financially after the 2017 season when he was a pending free agent, even though he still would have been the highest-paid Royals player in history. I know most Royals fans love him, and I’m grateful for what he did in Kansas City, especially during those postseason runs. However, Hosmer is a guy who probably still believes he’s an everyday first baseman, and he’s not settling with Kansas City to be behind Vinnie Pasquantino and/or Nick Pratto. If Hosmer is signed by Kansas City, even on a one-year deal, one of those two players is going to lose out and get blocked of playing time in 2023, which is the antithesis of what the Royals should be doing right now.
As for Moustakas, he wouldn’t necessarily be blocking anyone at third, though I think the risk is higher when it comes to him actually producing offensively.
In theory, having a platoon of Moose and Adalberto Mondesi at third wouldn’t be the worst thing for the Royals next year, especially with no clear-cut option at third. Moose can’t really play every day anymore and Mondesi mashes lefties so it could be a win-win. Plus, if it is proven that Bobby Witt, Jr. can’t play shortstop, you can move Witt to third and trade away Mondesi and/or Moose (or DFA Moose) without it costing too much. Moose probably will not cost more than a Minor League deal at this point in his career, and I think he would relish being back in KC more than Hosmer, especially since Moose is coming from two small market clubs previously (Milwaukee and Cincinnati) unlike Hos (San Diego and Boston).
If the Royals don’t do sign Moose and employ that strategy, I would be fine with that as well and be content to see if Mondesi, Nate Eaton, and Nicky Lopez can provide some kind of production at the hot corner on an offensive and defensive end next year.
After all, the bigger priority still is pitching (Zack Greinke’s status is still unknown) and the Royals would be better off saving their dollars on that this winter, leading up to Spring Training.
Photo credit: Joe Sargent/MLB Photos via Getty Images