Wednesday night was the deadline for teams to tender or non-tender arbitration-eligible players. Any players non-tendered become free agents for any team to sign, adding to the pool of players for the Royals to sift through to fill holes in left- and right-field, the starting rotation, and bullpen. These aren't great free agents - a team willingly let them go for no compensation. But they are typically younger free agents, and some may have enough upside that they may help a team for not much cost. Here's the list of names that have been made public so far. Let's look at a few players that might be able to help the Royals.
Alvarez was perhaps the most surprising non-tender of the week. Sure, Alvarez is rehabbing from season-ending shoulder surgery this summer, but he was a 2.0 fWAR pitcher in 2014 with a 2.65 ERA. Alvarez will be 26 next April and while he isn't much of a strikeout pitcher with just 4.73 per-nine-innings, but he doesn't walk many and is great at inducing groundballs with a 55% career rate. The fact the Marlins were so willing to let him go should give teams pause, especially with the injury concerns. But the Marlins are also not the most well-run organization right now, and Alvarez should have enough upside that several teams will be interested in him.
The former Braves pitcher is coming back from a torn labrum in May that kept him out all season, but in 2013 he was a 3.5 fWAR pitcher who won 13 games. Minor will turn 28 in a few weeks and the lefty was originally a first round pick in 2009 out of Vanderbilt. He had a disappointing 2014, pitching most of the season with a sore shoulder. Minor throws a whiff-inducing curveball and his high fly-ball rate will play well at Kauffman Stadium. He is an injury risk but still has enough upside to be a solid mid-rotation starter.
Cishek had 73 saves over 2013-2014 with the Marlins, and while he took a step back last year in 55 1/3 innings between the Marlins and Cardinals, he wasn't terrible with a 3.58 ERA and 3.86 FIP. Cishek struck out over a hitter per inning every season from 2011-2014, peaking with 11.57 strikeouts per-nine-innings in 2014. His strikeouts fell considerably last year to 7.81 per-nine innings, while his walk rate spiked. His velocity has dropped a few ticks over the last few years, but he's 29 and could be a nice candidate to bounce back and serve as a solid setup man.
Petit impressed many in 2014 when he struck out 133 hitters in 118 innings with just 22 walks, a 3.69 ERA, and a 2.78 FIP for the Giants. But his numbers regressed badly in 2015 with his strikeout rate falling to 6.99 per-nine innings. He was not terrible this year with a 3.67 ERA, but was around replacement level in 76 innings. Petit is a 31-year old right-hander and could have value as a long-reliever and spot starter.
Nicasio was a decent Rockies starter who suffered from some high ERAs in Coors Field, but put in a decent season for the Dodgers out of the bullpen last year. The 29-year old right-hander had a 3.86 ERA and 2.83 FIP in 58 1/3 relief innings with 10.03 strikeouts per-nine-innings. Nicasio is pretty much a two-pitch pitcher, but his velocity spiked up to the mid-90s this season, and his slider was much more effective than in past seasons. Most likely he is just a bullpen option at this point, although he was a 1.8 fWAR pitcher as a starter in 2013.
Cook was an All-Star with Oakland in 2012 and was a 1.5 fWAR reliever that year and in 2013. He had a disastrous 2015 season, failing to make the club out of spring training after a terrible camp. He struggled through a rough 2015 season both in the minors and in 8 2/3 big league innings with the A's and Red Sox. The problem are reportedly mechanical, although there may be medical issues that have not come to the surface. Cook suffered from forearm soreness and right shoulder tendinitis in 2014. His velocity seems to still be the same from his days when he struck out over a hitter per inning, but his ugly ERA last year may scare teams away. If the Royals can sort out his mechanics and get him back to his All-Star form, the upside is high for the 28-year old right-hander.
The Royals left-handed relievers are currently Tim Collins and Brian Flynn, so bringing Cesar Ramos into the mix could add more options. Ramos had a 2.75 ERA in 52 1/3 innings for the Angels last year with a 3.02 FIP and 7.39 strikeouts per-nine-innings. His splits aren't huge, with lefty opponents hitting .247/.310/.323 off of him for his career. Ramos doesn't bring much velocity but he has an effective slider and can be effective as a short reliever.