After the James Shields and Wade Davis trade, the Kansas City Royals signed four veteran players to Minor League deals. Left-handed reliever George Sherrill and right-handed reliever Dan Wheeler, along with outfielders Willy Taveras and Xavier Nady should get Major League spring training invites.
Sherrill, 35, has nine years of Major League experience with the Mariners, Orioles, Dodgers and Braves. Sherrill has a career 3.77 ERA, appearing in 442 games over 324.1 innings pitched, all in relief. Sherrill spent most of his career as a left-handed specialist, but he has 56 career saves, most of them in 2008-2009. He’s fared well against lefties, who only have a .186/.245/.285 line with a 4.84 SO/BB ratio. He’s more pedestrian against righties, who have a .273/.380/.418 line with a 1.01 SO/BB ratio.
With Tim Collins the only current left-handed reliever locked in the Royals bullpen, Sherrill could fit in as a lefty specialist. He’ll have to join the 40-man roster and beat out candidates such as Donnie Joseph, Justin Marks, Everett Teaford and Francisley Bueno. Sherrill is recovering from Tommy John surgery and it’s likely he will spend most if not all the 2013 season in AAA Omaha.
Wheeler, 35, has 13 years of Major League experience with the Rays, Mets, Astros, Red Sox and Indians. Wheeler has a career 3.98 ERA, appearing in 589 games over 640.2 pitched with nine career starts. He fares well against righties, who have a .216/.267/.366 line with a 4.04 SO/BB ratio. He’s not as good against lefties, who have a .281/.347/.499 line, and a 1.70 SO/BB ratio.
Being a right-handed reliever, Wheeler has plenty of competition, with righties Louis Coleman, Aaron Crow, Kevin Herrera and Nate Adcock, among others. Like Sherrill, Wheeler will have to join the 40-man roster to have a shot with the big club. Barring injuries or poor performance by someone in the bullpen, Wheeler will likely be on Omaha’s roster as a reliever.
The right-handed hitting Taveras, who will be 31 this Christmas, has seven years of Major League experience with the Astros, Rockies, Reds and Nationals. He’s appeared in 670 games with a .274/.320/.327 line, but 2010 was his last time in the Majors. He’s played most of his career in center field.
Speed and base running are his assets with 195 career stolen bases and a league leading 68 stolen bases in 2008 with the Rockies. However, he doesn’t draw many walks and with 71 doubles and eight home runs over his career, Taveras doesn’t hit for power.
With five outfielders on the Royals 40-man roster (Lorenzo Cain, Jarrod Dyson, Jeff Francoeur, Alex Gordon and David Lough), Taveras has a remote chance to make the Major League roster. He’s at least three years older than the other outfielders, Dyson is a faster runner and the rest have more power over Taveras. Gordon has the job in left, Cain is in center and even though Francoeur was horrible in right field, he’ll have every chance to keep his job. And if he doesn’t, there’s always Dyson and Lough to take Francoeur’s place.
The right-handed hitting Nady, 34, has 11 years of Major League experience with the Padres, Mets, Pirates, Yankees, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Nationals and Giants. He’s appeared in 939 games with a .270/.324/.432 line. His high water mark was in 2008, with a .305/.357/.510 line with 97 RBI, 37 doubles and 25 home runs. But the last couple of seasons, he’s been a bench player/pinch hitter.
At 34, Nady’s best days are behind him. He’s got the potential to hit for power, but he’s not an everyday player. Like Taveras, Nady is a long shot to make the Major League club and he’s likely a part of Omaha’s roster if he stays with the Royals organization.
Interesting note: Nady isn’t the only Xavier in Royals history. Xavier Dixon played 50 games in the Royals Minor League system in 1974 before playing three more seasons of independent league baseball and retiring in 1977.
A few years ago, these journeyman players would be in the mix for a spot on the Major League roster. But barring injuries or other circumstances, they’re playing for the Storm Chasers next season, or on another Major League team.