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Why the Royals shipped four minor league pitchers to the Mariners for pretty much nothin’

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The Royals ain’t got enough roster spots

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Spring training is winding down and the Royals will have their Opening Day roster set in a few days, with minor league rosters shaping up after that. Teams will have to juggle the personnel in their organization to accommodate the number of players they have at each level, which can lead to some teams cutting players they don’t have room for, and others picking up dudes basically just to fill out a roster.

So you may see some pretty minor trades this week, such as when the Royals dealt pitcher Sam Gaviglio to the Toronto Blue Jays for cash considerations. But they made one of the more unusual deals this week, when they sent four minor league pitchers to the Mariners. According to Mariners beat writer Ryan Divish, the Royals traded Ashton Goudeau, Matt Tenuta, David McKay, and Colin Rodgers to the Seattle Mariners for “cash considerations.” Players are frequently dealt for cash, but not typically as many as four in one deal. Cash considerations can mean pretty much anything - players have been dealt for as little as $1, which is what Divish suggests was the compensation for the Royals.

Before you accuse the Glass family of being cheap for selling players off for pocket change, these weren’t exactly top prospects given up by the Royals. Colin Rodgers was a promising third round pick at one point, but he has really struggled since having Tommy John surgery in 2013. Ashton Goudeau is 25 and put up an ERA over five in each of the last two seasons in Northwest Arkansas. Matt Tenuta is perhaps the most promising of the quartet, ranked #84 in the organization by Royals Farm Report, after he posted a 4.11 ERA with 78 strikeouts in 87 23 innings in High A and AA combined at age 23. David McKay was lit up in Idaho Falls - a tough place to pitch - but his numbers were even worse in a small sample at Lexington.

So why did the Royals give up four pitchers for pretty much nothing? It’s a numbers game at this point. Like the Major League club, each full-season minor league team has a roster limit of 25 (rookie-level teams can carry 35 players). So the Royals probably took a look at the bodies slated for each level and determined they had about four arms too many. And rather than let these guys twist in the wind next week as minor league clubs open their seasons, the Royals found a home for them and a better chance to land a job. And Mariners GM Jerry DiPoto, who must make at least one trade-per-week, or else his heart will explode, was willing to oblige.

Best wishes to the foursome of arms, but most likely this won’t be a trade the Royals will one day regret. And hey, $1 can buy you a Snickers bar, and Snickers bars will never need Tommy John surgery.