Today is the deadline to make roster moves to the 40-man roster to protect players from the Rule 5 draft, to be held at the Winter Meetings on December 11.
What is the Rule 5 draft and who is eligible for it? To answer this, we consult "Frequently asked questions about the Rule 5 draft", from MLB.com:
Players who were signed when they were 19 or older and have played in professional baseball for four years are eligible, as are players who were signed at 18 and have played for five years.
All players on a Major League Baseball team's 40-man roster, regardless of other eligibility factors, are "protected" and ineligible for the Rule 5 Draft.
According to those rule, here are some Royals candidates that meet that criteria and are not currently on the 40-man roster.
Candidates to be added to the 40 man roster
Buddy Baumann - Baumann was eligible last year and went unselected, so he will likely be unprotected again this year. The lefty-reliever has posted a 3.04 ERA in 139 AAA innings over the last two seasons, so its not unthinkable a team selects the 26-year old as a lefty-specialist.
Jorge Bonifacio - Had a terrible 2014 campaign, but should be a no-brainer to add to the roster. Still a top ten organization prospect, but his star is fading fast.
Orlando Calixte - Calixte still has a plus glove, but his hitting has not quite matured. He hit .241/.288/.374 for AA Northwest Arkansas, and I can see a team in the Rule 5 Draft taking a gamble on a good glove guy with some upside like him.
Brett Eibner- Eibner seemed like a decent candidate to get selected a year ago when he was eligible, but was passed over. He had a much worse year this year, hitting .241/.317/.380 for AAA Omaha. Unless some team likes his pop or wants him to give pitching a shot, he's probably not a threat to get selected.
Andy Ferguson - Ferguson put up pretty decent numbers for AA Northwest Arkansas this year and was named their Pitcher of the Year with 2.93 ERA in 25 games. The 26-year old right-hander out of Arkansas State University has had an unremarkable career, which makes him unlikely to get selected in the Rule 5 draft.
Matt Fields - Fields is pretty much your typical AAA slugger who just gets stuck swatting home runs in the Pacific Coast League his entire career. He has slugged 69 home runs in AA and AAA the last two seasons, but he is 29 year old, defensively limited, and shows little plate discipline.
Whit Merrifield - Merrifield had a breakout season for AAA Omaha, hitting .340/.373/.474 in 345 plate appearances after being promoted. He can play all over the outfield and even a little second base, so he might have some value to a team. Still, he's a bit of a long-shot to get selected, as his season seemed a bit flukey.
J.C. Sulbaran - Sulbaran was a right-handed pitcher acquired in the Jonathan Broxton deal back in 2012. He has been an adequate starting pitcher, posting a 3.25 ERA in 23 starts for AA Northwest Arkansas, with 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings, but the 25-year old is not likely to be particularly attractive to other clubs.
Ramon Torres - Torres is a deep sleeper prospect. He hit .285/.329/.391 with 20 steals at A Wilmington. That's a long way from the big leagues, so he's a very long shot to get selected in the Rule 5 draft.
Ali Williams - Williams has struck out over 10 per nine innings in his minor league career, primarily as a reliever, but has struggled with command. The Charleston Southern product was sent to the Arizona Fall League this year and excelled, striking out 17 and walking 4 in 12 2/3 innings, making the right-hander more of a candidate to get selected.
Chris Dwyer/ Tim Melville/Brooks Pounder - Dwyer and Melville are former pitching prospects who have fallen off the radar due to poor results. Dwyer struck out nearly a hitter per inning in Omaha last year, but will be 27 next April and hasn't seemed to find a way to get hitters out consistently. Pounder is 24 and recovering from Tommy John surgery.
The Royals currently have 35 players on their 40 man roster. If they need to make more room for players, who can the Royals jettison off the roster to make room?
Candidates to move off the 40 man roster
Francisley Bueno - Bueno was useful-ish last year in low leverage situations, posting a 4.18 ERA in 32 innings for the Royals with lefties hitting just .206/.235/.270 against him.
Casey Coleman - The Royals picked up Coleman as a free agent in April, and he pitched 12 innings for the club this year. He posted a 2.15 ERA at Omaha, but with an unremarkable strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Paulo Orlando - The Royals recently added Orlando to the 40-man roster, so it seems unlikely they will shuttle the 28-year old off now, despite his lack of prospect status.
Moises Sierra - Sierra was claimed off waivers during the World Series, but the 26-year old right-hander has an unremarkable line of .243/.296/.383 in 449 Major League plate appearances.
John Lamb - The shine has worn off the former Baseball America Top 100 prospect, but Lamb posted a 3.97 ERA with 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings at age 23 in AAA Omaha, so he is unlikely to get moved off.
Jayson Nix - Nix was claimed off waivers in September to add infield depth and even made a World Series appearance, but its hard to see how the .120/.169/.157 hitter fits into next year's plans.
Aaron Crow, Tim Collins - Both are non-tender candidates, but its hard to imagine the team releasing them now for the roster spot.
Who should the Royals add? Who should they take off the roster?