Notes: Brach signs; ST broadcasts; live BPs

February 23rd, 2021

In a low-risk move to increase their pitching depth this season, the Royals signed veteran right-hander to a Minor League deal with an invite to Spring Training on Monday. The club announced the deal ahead of this spring’s first full-squad workout in Surprise, Ariz.

“I was talking with Brad, telling him that there’s opportunity to come in here and compete for a spot, and we absolutely appreciate players who’ve had some experience and had success,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “I remember watching him. That was nasty stuff.”

Brach, 34, spent the past two years with the Mets. He missed the first two weeks of the 2020 season because of a COVID-19 diagnosis. When he returned, he posted a 1.50 ERA over his first 11 appearances, but he ended his season with three ugly outings, which included eight walks, six runs and just one out recorded.

His stat line from last season included eight runs allowed across 12 1/3 innings with 14 strikeouts. Brach exercised his 2021 option with the Mets -- due to be $2.075 million -- but the club designated him for assignment earlier this month to clear 40-man roster space.

Brach was one of baseball’s best relievers a few years ago. An All-Star in 2016 with the Orioles, Brach posted a 3.05 ERA from 2012-18 with more than a strikeout per inning, pitching for the Padres, O’s and Braves. He appeared in three postseason games for Baltimore and two more for Atlanta. But he struggled after signing a one-year deal with the Cubs, posting a 6.13 ERA in 39 2/3 innings in 2019.

Brach’s signing adds another veteran arm to a Royals camp infused with young talent, and it gives Kansas City more pitching depth as it navigates pitchers’ workloads in the beginning of a 162-game season. If he makes the club out of Spring Training, it would mean that he’s figured out the location issues that he dealt with over the past few years, and his strikeout rate -- 9.6 per nine innings over his 10 years in the Majors -- would give the team another weapon in its bullpen.

“To bring him in to give him a chance to fight for a team, come in and compete -- we make a big deal about guys who’ve been there and done that and had success in a lot of different roles,” Matheny said. “Excited to have him on board, excited to watch him and just see how he fits in.”

Spring Training broadcast schedule

The Royals announced Monday that 610 Sports Radio, part of the Royals Radio Network, will air 20 Spring Training games on KCSP-AM this year. Of those 20 games, 15 will be broadcast on 610 Sports Radio and five will be broadcast on its sister station 1660 The Score.

All 28 Spring Training games can be streamed on royals.com, including the games heard on radio, starting with Sunday’s Cactus League opener against the Rangers. Ryan Lefebvre, Steve Physioc and Steve Stewart will call this year’s broadcasts. Denny Matthews, who will be in his 53rd year as a Royals broadcaster when the regular season begins, will not be traveling to Arizona this spring but will make a few cameos on the spring broadcasts from his home.

Related

Live batting practice with the full squad

Royals pitchers have been spending the first few days of camp throwing their live batting practices to the catchers who weren’t behind the plate. On Monday, they got their first taste of the other Royals hitters who arrived in camp.

Kyle Zimmer, Jon Heasley, Greg Holland, Tyler Zuber and Collin Snider threw live batting practices Monday, with Jakob Junis throwing a bullpen. Matheny walked away impressed with how Duffy threw.

“Ball was jumping out of his hand,” Matheny said. “It’s hard to see and tell too much when guys are just now getting their live at-bats, but we’ve been watching the last week the live at-bats that some of these catchers are taking. They’re taking really good at-bats. We want to watch how our pitchers are progressing, but what’s really going to be the indicator is when a batter gets in the box.

“And you saw some awkward swings, some mis-hits, you saw him controlling the strike zone. I really loved his intensity, his focus. There was an intentionality to the work he was doing. There was something he was trying to accomplish. I was encouraging him afterward, just how he’s going about his business right now is a big deal for our club.”

Worth noting

• Matheny said that all players expected to be in camp were present Monday morning with the exception of a player who was dealing with visa issues. The group include left-hander Asa Lacy, who was scheduled to get his physical Monday after a short delay in arriving to camp.

• Shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., the Royals’ top prospect and the No. 7-ranked prospect on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 list, will focus on the infield (second base, shortstop and third base) this spring. Witt has worked in center field on his own time, but the team won’t ask him to keep getting reps there officially for now.

Quotable

“We just want to win. We’re going to compete. [General manager] Dayton [Moore] and [Royals chairman] Mr. [John] Sherman, they’ve done a pretty good job. They’ve brought some great players. Players with a lot of experience in the big leagues and playoffs too. We just want to win. We’re going to prepare ourselves to be ready. … They made the moves, they spent their money; we’re going to play hard for them.” -- Catcher Salvador Perez, on what he thinks the Royals can do this season