The Royals announced they have re-signed outfielder Bubba Starling, first baseman Samir Duenez, and pitcher Jason Adam to minor league deals. They non-tendered the three back on November 30 to clear space on the 40-man roster. Pitcher Andres Machado was re-signed a few weeks ago.
Bubba Starling is now 26 years old and is coming off a season lost to injury. He missed most of the beginning of the year with an oblique injury, then suffered a dislocated finger getting out of bed. That injury ended his season after just 11 games in Omaha. Starling has been criticized in the past by former Royals minor league coach Jaime Quirk for not dedicating himself to baseball in the off-season. This year, he went to the Dominican Winter League, but appeared in just one game.
The Royals have a pretty crowded outfield now, with Alex Gordon in left, Billy Hamilton now starting in center, and Brian Goodwin and Brett Phillips vying for playing time with Jorge Bonifacio and Jorge Soler. Starling has the speed the Royals covet, and everyone has raved that his defense has been Major League-ready for years. The problem has been making contact - Bubba has hit just .236/.312/.386 as a minor leaguer, striking out 27% of the time. I know we say it every year, but one of these days it has to be true - this is a make-or-break season for Bubba as a pro.
Like Starling, Adam is a local product out of Blue Valley Northwest High School, who showed flashes of briliance last year. The 27-year old has improved his velocity into the upper-90s but needs to work on consistency and composure. In 32 1/3 innings with the Royals last year, he had 37 strikeouts and 15 walks with a 6.12 ERA, although his numbers are a bit skewed by a five-run blow-up in his last outing.
Samir Duenez was once considered a top Royals prospect, but his career has stalled a bit. The 22-year old Venezuelan first baseman had a solid season at AA Northwest Arkansas last year, hitting .282/.357/.463 with 10 home runs in 80 games. He can play a bit of outfield and is considered a good athlete and could still have a future in Kansas City.
The Royals have not made an announcement on spring training invitees yet, but these three would seem to be a good bet. To make the Major League roster, they would have to be added back to the 40-man roster, which is currently full.