The Royals announced they have optioned first baseman Ryan O’Hearn, and pitchers Richard Lovelady and Jake Newberry to the Alternate Site.
O’Hearn has played in parts of the last three seasons with the Royals, hitting .212/.304/.414 with 28 home runs in 672 plate appearances. The left-handed bat got off to a blazing start in 2018, hitting 12 home runs in 44 games, but the 27-year old has struggled to hit like that since, hitting under the Mendoza Line in each of the last two seasons. He had mixed results in spring training, tying for the team lead with five home runs, but hitting just .209 and striking out 17 times in 49 trips to the plate.
The Royals signed free agent Carlos Santana to play first base this season, but there was still a chance O’Hearn could have made the team as a bench bat. Instead, it looks like that role may go to Ryan McBroom, a right-handed bat who has hit .269/.321/.436 with six home runs in 168 plate appearances over the last two seasons.
Richard Lovelady has put up impressive numbers in Triple-A Omaha, but has failed to see that translate into big league results. He had a 7.65 ERA in 20 innings for the Royals in 2019, with 17 strikeouts and 8 walks, and pitched just one inning for the Royals last year. The 25-year old left-hander gave up three runs, two earned, with eleven strikeouts and five walks in 8 2⁄3 innings. His demotion could mean a spot for left-handed reliever Jake Brentz, who was impressing in camp with a fastball that hits triple digits.
Jake Newberry is a 26-year old right-handed reliever who had a 4.07 ERA in 66 1⁄3 innings over parts of the last three seasons. He has increased his strikeout rates in each of the last three seasons, but has had trouble keeping down walks. He had a 3.48 ERA with 13 strikeouts and 3 walks in 10 1⁄3 innings in spring training.
Earlier this week, the Royals added reliever Wade Davis to the roster. He will likely join Scott Barlow, Jesse Hahn, Greg Holland, Jakob Junis, Josh Staumont, and Kyle Zimmer in the bullpen. The Royals could carry nine relievers, with Brentz, Brad Brach, Carlos Hernández, and Ervin Santana still in the running for a roster spot. The 40-man roster is currently full, although the club could move reliever Daniel Tillo to the 60-day Injured List.
The Alternate Site will be held at Arvest Ballpark in Springdale, Arkansas. The Royals will also carry a five-man taxi squad when they travel.