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Sixteen Royals become minor league free agents

Bubba Starling, Meibrys Viloria, and Jake Newberry headline the list.

Kansas City Royals v Oakland Athletics Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

Sixteen Royals minor leaguers became free agents today under minor league free agency rules. Under MLB Rule 9, minor leaguers can become free agents if not added to the 40-man roster after spending at least seven seasons on a minor league roster, or if they were previously released or non-tendered and their present contract expired. These free agents are free to sign a Major League or minor league contract with any team.

Baseball America has the complete list of minor league free agents. It’s a list that includes former big leaguers like Jake Bauers, Tim Beckham, Joe Beimel, Joe Biagini, Keon Broxton, Matt Davidson, Jon Duplantier, Zack Godley, Jose Iglesias, Shed Long, Jeff Mathis, Bruce Maxwell, Logan Morrison, Brandon Morrow, Brad Peacock, Gregory Polanco, Yolmer Sanchez, Matt Shoemaker, Mallex Smith, Stephen Vogt, Adam Warren, and Tony Wolters.

Former Royals include Ricky Aracena, Humberto Arteaga, Homer Bailey, Bryan Brickhouse, Aaron Brooks, Drew Butera, Christian Colon, Cheslor Cuthbert, Samir Duenez, Brett Eibner, Heath Fillmyer, Maikel Franco, Gerson Garabito, Ofreidy Gomez, Justin Grimm, Terrance Gore, Ryan Goins, Blaine Hardy, Jack Lopez, Michael Mariot, Kevin McCarthy, Francisco Pena, Matt Reynolds, and Andrew Susac.

Here are the 16 players from the Royals organization that became minor league free agents.

Chance Adams is a 27-year old right-hander the Royals acquired from the Yankees in 2019. He pitched in six games for the Royals in 2020, giving up nine runs in 8 23 innings, and he underwent Tommy John surgery after the season. He returned to pitch in one game for Omaha this season.

Brandon Barker was signed out of the independent Atlantic League this summer. The 29-year old right-hander gave up 47 runs in 52 innings for Triple-A Omaha. The Royals were his fourth organization after stops with the Braves, Orioles, and Marlins.

Garrett Davila was a fourth-round pick by the Royals in 2015 out of high school in North Carolina. The lefty had a promising first season in 2016, going 7-0 with a 2.77 ERA for the affiliate in Burlington, North Carolina, but struggled the next two seasons in Lexington and missed all of 2019 with injuries. He posted a 2.45 ERA in 51 13 innings as a 24-year old in High-A, but gave up 12 runs in 14 13 innings for Double-A Northwest Arkansas.

Nick Dini appeared in 20 games for the Royals in 2019 as a catcher, hitting .196/.270/.357 with two home runs. The former 14th-round pick out of Wagner College in New York has hit at every level in the minors, and he batted .303/.357/.494 with four home runs in 26 games for Omaha this year at age 27.

Nathan Esposito was a 33rd round pick by the Royals in 2015 out of Concordia University in Oregon. The right-handed hitting catcher hit .221/.290/.287 in six minor league seasons, including .200/.310/.360 in 15 games for Omaha this year.

Jeison Guzman is a slick-fielding shortstop from the Dominican Republic who was briefly called up to the active roster in 2020, but never saw action in a game. The switch-hitter batted .255/.312/.401 with six home runs and 11 steals in 66 games between High-A Quad Cities and Double-A Northwest Arkansas, and he just turned 23 last month.

Jake Kalish was a 32nd round pick in 2015 out of George Mason. The lefty has spent parts of the last four seasons in Omaha, making 42 starts with a 5.05 ERA at that level. He is known for throwing strikes with a very low walk rate, and had a 6.94 ERA in 96 innings this season with a career-best 9.9 strikeouts-per-nine innings at age 29.

Rudy Martin is a left-handed hitting outfielder with speed out of Mississippi that earned him comparisons to Jarrod Dyson. Like Dyson, he had a patient eye and swiped a lot of bags, stealing 138 bases in six seasons. He had a breakout season in the power department, .267/.389/.433 with 11 home runs and 21 steals in 89 games at age 25 for Northwest Arkansas and Omaha combined.

Erick Mejia is a utility player the Royals acquired from the Dodgers in a three-team trade in 2018 for Scott Alexander and Joakim Soria. He appeared in 17 games in parts of the 2019 and 2020 seasons with the Royals. Mejia is capable of playing all over the field, and he hit .246/.317/.409 with seven home runs in 55 games for Omaha at age 26 this season.

Anderson Miller was a third-round pick in 2015 out of Western Kentucky. The left-handed hitting outfielder had decent speed and power and hit .215/.304/.406 with 12 home runs in 69 games for Omaha this season at age 27.

Jake Newberry pitched in parts of the last four seasons with the Royals until he was designated for assignment this past July. In 65 MLB games he has a 4.84 ERA with 8.8 strikeouts-per-nine innings and 5.1 walks-per-nine innings. The 26-year old right-hander pitched in just four games for the Royals this year, giving up eight runs in 4 13 innings.

Blake Perkins is an outfielder acquired from the Nationals in 2018 in a four-player trade for Kelvin Herrera. The switch-hitter was a former second-round pick by Washington out of high school, and he showed a patient eye and good speed that suggested he might be a leadoff hitter one day. He hit just .202/.319/.332 with nine steals in 72 games this season for Double-A Arkansas at age 24.

Carlos Sanabria appeared in two games for the Astros in 2020 before the Royals claimed him off waivers at the end of the season. He was non-tendered and re-signed to a minor league deal. The 24-year old Venezuelan struck out 59 hitters in 58 13 innings with 36 walks for Northwest Arkansas and Omaha as a reliever.

Bubba Starling has already announced his retirement after a ten-year professional career. He was the fifth overall pick in the 2011 draft out of Gardner-Edgerton High School in the Kansas City area and appeared in 91 games with the Royals in 2019-2020. He won a Silver Medal with Team USA at the Olympics in Japan this year.

Meibrys Viloria is a left-handed hitting catcher who has appeared in parts of three seasons with the Royals, hitting .215/.266/.287 in 201 plate appearances. The 24-year old Colombian hit .242/.368/.384 with 8 home runs and 50 walks in 85 games for Northwest Arkansas and Omaha, and provides solid defense behind the plate.

Nolan Watson was a sandwich pick in the 2015 draft out of high school in Indiana. In 415 minor league innings, he had an ERA of 6.43 with just 5.9 strikeouts-per-nine innings. The 24-year old right-hander had a 6.30 ERA in 75 2/3 innings for Quad Cities and Northwest Arkansas this year.