The Royals announced that right-handed pitcher Jakob Junis has elected free agency rather than accept an outright assignment to Triple-A Omaha. The 29-year old was eligible for arbitration this year and MLB Trade Rumors projected he could earn $1.8 million. Junis pitched in just 39 1⁄3 innings this year, missing time with a right shoulder impingement. In 16 games, he posted a 5.26 ERA with 41 strikeouts and 12 walks.
Junis has pitched in parts of five seasons with the Royals, starting 89 games with a 4.82 ERA. His best season came in his second season in 2018, when he started 30 games with a 4.37 ERA in 177 innings, good for 1.7 WAR, according to Baseball Reference. Junis has a plus slider to go with a new cutter he developed, which gave hope that perhaps he could experience more success in the bullpen. But injuries prevented him from making that transition this season.
As a five-year veteran, Junis has the right to refuse outright assignments and instead elect free agency. The Royals are still free to re-sign him. The move opens up another spot on the 40-man roster ahead of the November 19 deadline to add players to the roster. The Royals also activated Brad Keller and Richard Lovelady from the 60-day Injured List, bringing the number of players on the roster to 36.