The Royals have begun clearing some 40-man roster spots this week in anticipation of this off-season. The team announced this week they lost pitcher Tucker Davidson to the Orioles and outfielder Bubba Thompson to the Reds through waiver claims. Pitcher Taylor Hearn also cleared outright waivers and elected free agency while catcher Tyler Cropley cleared waivers and accepted assignment to Triple-Omaha. The moves bring the number of players on the 40-man roster to 36.
Davidson was acquired from the Angels for cash considerations on August 1 and appeared in 20 games with the Royals, putting up a 5.03 ERA with 15 strikeouts and 8 walks in 19 2⁄3 innings. The 27-year-old was hit hard by lefties this year - they hit .305/.409/.576 against him - and his velocity was down from past seasons. But with the Orioles’ track record of turning around pitchers lately, you have to wonder if the Royals missed something with him.
Thompson was claimed off waivers from the Rangers on August 13 but did not appear in a big league game with the Royals. The 25-year-old speedster hit .259/.313/.410 with four home runs and 11 steals in 33 games for Triple-A Omaha. He appeared in 37 games with the Rangers earlier this year and could be in line to win a championship ring if they go all the way.
Hearn was acquired from the Braves for infielder Nicky Lopez this summer. He pitched in eight games with the Royals with an 8.22 ERA and 8 strikeouts with 2 waks. In 101 big league games over five years, he has a 5.35 ERA in 237 innings. Players with more than three years of Major League service time, or who have been previously outrighted, may reject an outright assignment in favor of free agency in lieu of the assignment. The 29-year-old lefty was eligible for arbitration and was projected to make well over a million dollars, so it was an easy to call to outright him.
Cropley was an organization guy that was called up late in the year when the Royals were short on catchers. The Iowa native appeared in two games and went 1-for-6, collecting his first MLB RBI.
Three more roster spots will open up when Zack Greinke, Brad Keller, and Matt Duffy become free agents the day after the World Series concludes. The Royals will have to activate catcher Freddy Fermin, first baseman Vinnie Pasquantino, and pitchers Kris Bubic, Jake Brentz, Austin Cox, Daniel Lynch IV, Josh Staumont, and Josh Taylor from the 60-day Injured List within five days after the conclusion of the World Series.