The Royals will non-tender four players, according to MLB.com reporter Jeffrey Flanagan, including 2012 first-round pick Bubba Starling. Starling will be taken off the 40-man roster along with first baseman Samir Duenez, and pitchers Jason Adam and Andres Machado. Flanagan reports that all four are expected to re-sign with the Royals on minor league deals.
The 26-year old Starling was selected fifth overall out of high school in Gardner, just outside of Kansas City. He has largely been a disappointment with the bat, although many say his glove is Major League ready. He appeared in just 11 games for AAA Omaha this year, missing much of the season with an oblique injury, then a dislocated finger he suffered getting out of bed.
Samir Duenez was a minor surprise to be non-tendered. The 22-year old Venezuelan fared well in AA Northwest Arkansas, hitting .282/.357/.463 with 10 home runs in 80 games, He is a good athlete for a first baseman, and has hit for a good average, but his power has not developed as you might hope for a corner infielder.
Andres Machado appeared briefly with the Royals in 2017. The 25-year old right-hander was hammered this year in AAA Omaha, but fared much better after a demotion to AA Northwest Arkansas with a 3.72 ERA in 58 innings there.
Jason Adam, like Starling, is a local product out of Blue Valley Northwest High School in Overland Park. He posted a 6.12 ERA in 32 1⁄3 innings with 37 strikeouts. The 27 year-old right-hander was in his second stint with the club, having been traded away to the Twins for Josh Willingham, but was re-signed by the Royals last year after being let go, with a fastball now in the high-90s.
If you’re wondering why the Royals non-tendered these players rather than designating them for assignment, it is likely to circumvent the waiver process. Players designated for assignment must be exposed to waivers, and rather than risk the chance the player might be claimed, the Royals can non-tender him, effectively releasing him. That player is free to sign with any club he likes, but it sounds like the Royals are pretty close to bringing all four players back on minor league deals.
The Royals 40-man roster now stands at 36. The moves give the Royals more flexibility to make roster moves in anticipation of the Winter Meetings, which will take place December 9-13 in Las Vegas. It also means they will likely make a selection in the Rule 5 draft, which takes place on the last day of the meetings. Today was the deadline for teams to make non-tenders, with Billy Hamilton, Avisail Garcia, Matt Davidson, and Wilmer Flores among the notable names that have become free agents so far.