Infielder Jeison Guzman, outfielder Nick Heath, and pitchers Foster Griffin and Carlos Hernandez have been added to the 40-man roster in anticipation of December’s Rule 5 draft. To make room on the roster, the team designated for assignment catcher Nick Dini, outfielder Jorge Bonifacio, and pitchers Conner Greene and Arnaldo Hernandez. Today was the deadline to add eligible players to the roster to protect them from the Rule 5 draft.
Guzman received a $1.5 million bonus out of the Dominican Republic as a toolsy shortstop and the 21-year old hit .253/.296/.373 with seven home runs in 121 games for Low-A Lexington this past season. Heath, who turns 26 next week, hit .255/.345/.387 across Double-A and Triple-A last year and led all minor leaguers with 60 steals. The 22-year old Hernandez sports a mid-90s fastball and posted a 3.50 ERA with 43 strikeouts in 36 innings for low-A Lexington last year. Griffin is a former first-round pick who was passed over in last year’s Rule 5 draft, but was added to the roster this year after a 5.23 ERA with 111 strikeouts in 130 2/3 innings, which was actually a league-average ERA in the crazy Pacific Coast League.
Bonifacio hit 17 home runs as a rookie in 2017 and batted .247/.319/.408 in three seasons with the Royals, but struggled after an 80-game suspension for banned substances in 2018. The 26-year old was defensively limited and hit just .222/.284/.417 with Triple-A Omaha this season.
Nick Dini was added to the 40-man roster this summer when the Royals were short on catchers. The 26-year old hit .196/.270/.357 in 20 games with the Royals after hitting .296/.370/.565 with 13 home runs in 58 gameswith Omaha. Greene was claimed off waivers from the Cardinals last off-season, but the 24-year old failed to impress in his only season in the Royals organization, posting a 5.13 ERA with 95 strikeouts in 112 1/3 innings across Double-A and Triple-A. Arnaldo Hernandez showed some promise with a velocity bump, but the 23-year old had a disappointing season with a 5.60 ERA with 85 strikeouts in 128 2/3 innings across Double-A and Triple-A.
Among the Royals left unprotected for the Rule 5 draft include catcher Sebastian Rivero, second baseman Gabriel Cancel, third baseman Emmanuel Rivera, outfielders Seuly Matias and Blake Perkins, and pitchers Grant Gavin, Ofreidy Gomez, Yunior Marte, Gerson Garabito, Ashe Russell, and Nolan Watson.
All around baseball, teams are scrambling to add players to the 40-man roster, which could present opportunities for the Royals to make a trade to acquire another player. The Athletics designated pitcher Jharel Cotton for assignment earlier today. The Rule 5 draft will be the morning of the last day of the Winter Meetings, on December 12.