The Royals have non-tendered third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert, infielders Humberto Arteaga and Erick Mejia, and pitcher Jesse Hahn, making them free agents. They did tender a contract to pitcher Mike Motntgomery, signing him to a one-year. $3.1 million deal.
The 27-year old Cuthbert hit .246/.294/.379 with nine home runs in 87 games. In five seasons with the Royals, he hit .250/.300/.378 in 1,160 plate appearances. The native of Corn Island in Nicaragua was a nice story, signed to a $1.35 million bonus as an amateur. He held his own as a 23-year old rookie in 2016 filling in for the injured Mike Moustakas, hitting .274/.318/.413 with 12 home runs in 128 games that year. But he struggled to hit much after that, and his defense was subpar at third base. With the emergence of Hunter Dozier at third base, Cuthbert became expendable. MLB Trade Rumors estimated Cuthbert to earn $1.8 million through the arbitration process, but instead he will become a free agent.
Jesse Hahn was acquired from the Athletics back in January of 2018 along with pitcher Heath Fillmyer in exchange for pitcher Ryan Buchter, designated hitter Brandon Moss, and cash. But he injured his ulnar collateral ligament in spring training, costing him the entire 2018 season and most of the 2019 season. The 30-year old right-hander returned to appear in six games for the Royals in September, giving up seven runs in 4 2⁄3 innings. In five big league seasons with the Padres, Athletics, and Royals, Hahn has a 4.33 ERA in 290 2⁄3 innings. Hahn was projected to earn $900,000 in arbitration.
The 25-year old Arteaga hit .197/.258/.230 in 41 games in his rookie year with the Royals this season. The switch-hitter is known primarily for his defense, but has never produced much with the bat in his career. Mejia was acquired back in Janaury of 2018 from the Dodgers in a three-team trade with pitcher Trevor Oaks for pitchers Scott Alexander and Joakim Soria. The 25-year old has good speed and positional versatility to play all over the field and hit .271/.339/.382 in 128 games for Triple-A Omaha. The Royals could still bring back any of the players they have non-tendered on either Major League or minor league deals.
The Royals will bring back Montgomery, likely to give him another shot at the rotation. MLB Trade Rumors had estimated that Montgomery would earn $2.9 million. The 30-year old is in his second year of arbitration and made 13 starts for the Royals after they acquired him from the Cubs, with an ERA of 4.64 with 51 strikeouts in 64 innings. In five seasons with the Mariners, Cubs, and Royals, Montgomery has a 3.83 ERA in 535 2⁄3 innings with 69 starts and 111 relief appearances.
Monday was the deadline to tender a contract to arbitration-eligible players. Several notable players were non-tendered around baseball including Twins first baseman C.J. Cron, Diamondbacks outfielder Stephen Souza, Jr., Mariners infielder Tim Beckham and outfielder Domingo Santana, Athletics reliever Blake Treinen, and Cubs infielder Addison Russell. In all, 56 players were non-tendered on Monday.
The moves today bring the number of players on the Royals 40-man roster to 36, allowing the Royals to make a selection in next week’s Rule 5 draft. The Royals will also have no arbitration cases to deal with this year. The club has only taken one case to arbitration since Dayton Moore took over in 2006, defeating Brandon Maurer in 2018.