The Royals got the last day of the Winter Meetings off to a fast start, releasing designated hitter Mike Jacobs and relief pitcher John Bale early Thursday morning.
The moves reduced the roster to 38 players, leaving open two spots prior to the Rule 5 draft.
Both players proved to be disappointments last season.
Jacobs, obtained from the Marlins in a trade for reliever Leo Nunez, hit 19 home runs with 61 RBIs and a .228 average after a .247/32/93 line in 2008 in the National League.
He got off to a good start in his first 36 games, batting .270 with nine homers and 23 RBIs but fell off rapidly. He began the season as the starting first baseman but quickly lost that job to Billy Butler and went into a DH role.
Bale, in his third season with the Royals, began the season on the disabled list after undergoing thyroid surgery. Reinstated on May 23, he pitched in a career-high 43 games but posted a 5.72 ERA in 28 1/3 innings with a 0-1 record and one save.
A left-handed signed by the Royals as a free agent out of Japan for the 2007 season, his stay was interrupted by injuries including shoulder and back strains and a broken hand. He was tried as a starter in 2008 but that experiment ended after he lost all three outings.
First baseman Mike Jacobs agreed to a one-year contract with the Royals, the club announced on Tuesday night.
Jacobs signed for $3.275 million, the halfpoint between the figures submitted by the two sides. Jacobs asked for $3.8 million, the Royals offered $2.75 million. The hearing was scheduled for Wednesday.
The signing continued a streak for general manager Dayton Moore, who has never had an arbitration case advance to a hearing in his Royals tenure. Jacobs was the last remaining case for the Royals.
This was the first shot at a multi-million dollar salary for Jacobs, who was traded by the Florida Marlins to the Royals this winter with that in mind. The Marlins paid him $395,000 last year.
The Royals previously signed the three other players who exchanged figures in the arbitration process: Pitcher Zack Greinke to a four-year, $38-million contract; infielder-outfielder Mark Teahen to a one-year, $3.575 million contract, and pitcher Brian Bannister to a one-year, $1.7375-million deal.
Five others who were eligible for arbitration also signed one-year contracts: Catcher John Buck, $2.9 million; pitcher Jimmy Gobble, $1.35 million; pitcher Kyle Davies, $1.3 million; infielder Esteban German, $1.2 million, and pitcher Joel Peralta, $640,000.
— Dick Kaegel
The Royals’ athletic trainers have been almost as lonely as the Maytag repairman. Not much business coming their way. “John Bale is having a little bit of stiffness in his upper back,” manager Trey Hillman told reporters on Monday. “He’s still doing almost all of the activities. No major concern there, he’s just having some soreness and some spasms going on.” Hillman said that was no urgency about Bale because he’s back in the bullpen and doesn’t need to get his arm stretched out as he did last year as a starter….Catcher Matt Tupman, recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, is restricted in his throwing so far.
Just in case you were wondering, there are 15 players on the Royals’ 40-man roster who are out of Minor League options: Bale, John Buck, Alberto Callaspo, Shane Costa, Esteban German, Ross Gload, Jimmy Gobble, Jose Guillen, Ron Mahay, Gil Meche, Brayan Pena, Tony Pena Jr., Ryan Shealy, Robinson Tejeda and Doug Waechter. The other 25 guys have options remaining.
First baseman Mike Jacobs has his salary arbitration hearing set for Wednesday in the Phoenix area. He’s asking for $3.8 million and the Royals have offered $2.75 million. Middle ground is $3.275 million. No indication if a settlement is near or if they’ll go before the arbitrators….There’s a splashy new adornment to the Royals’ batting cages at camp. Overhead are art images of the 16 players in the Royals Hall of Fame, in alphabetical order from Brett to Wilson….Hillman left camp early on Monday to do his civic duty and participate in a charity golf tournament….If you haven’t noticed, outfielder Coco Crisp will be wearing uniform No. 2 and infielder Willie Bloomquist will be wearing No. 8. They agreed to switch digits during last month’s Royals FanFest. Crisp was No. 10 previously with the Red Sox and Indians; Bloomquist wore No. 16 with the Mariners. The Royals’ No. 10 is, of course, retired in honor of Dick Howser. And Billy Butler is wearing No. 16.
— Dick Kaegel