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Royals sign reliever Seth Maness

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The reliever is coming off an experimental procedure.

St Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Royals have signed reliever Seth Maness to a minor league deal according to St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Derrick Goold. The 28-year old right-hander had been a very useful reliever for the Cardinals the past four seasons but was non-tendered last fall due to an elbow injury. The injury typically would have required Tommy John surgery, but Maness underwent an experimental procedure and expects to be ready for the start of the season.

The surgery Maness had, called “primary repair,” doesn’t have the sexy name. It doesn’t have the brand recognition of Tommy John. But it also doesn’t have the lengthy recovery time of its famous forefather. It is a repair and buttressing of the existing ligament at the bone, not Tommy John’s reconstruction of the ligament. The scar Maness has on the inside of his right elbow is the familiar arc of a Tommy John recipient. (Two of the Cardinals’ five starting pitchers have the same scar.) And the medical code assigned by Major League Baseball to Maness’ profile for interested teams is the same as Tommy John. As a result, so are the assumptions about the righthander’s availability for 2017. The surgery he had is too new to have its own code.

“It has that potential to be big,” Paletta said.

Before the injury, Maness had a career 3.19 ERA in 244 relief appearances in St. Louis. He does not flash high strikeout rates, but is a groundball artist with a rate near 60%, the 15th-highest groundball rate among relievers over the last four seasons.

Maness is a strike-thrower with just 1.71 walks-per-nine innings in his career. His fastball only runs in the high 80s, but he relies heavily on a sinker and changeup to induce ground balls.

Maness will have a chance to compete for a bullpen spot behind Kelvin Herrera, Joakim Soria, with non-roster invitees like Al Alburquerque, Bobby Parnell, and Brandon League. Dayton Moore has a good track record finding good relievers for cheap, signing Joe Blanton, Peter Moylan, and Ryan Madson to minor league deals in past years.

Update: We have terms of the deal.

Jeffrey Flanagan also says there is probably an opt-out date around May 1, but that has not been confirmed yet.