SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Cactus League schedule called for the Royals to make the long trek southeast to Mesa on Sunday to face the Cubs. But for the Royals' newest addition -- right-handed reliever Justin Grimm -- the GPS pointed in the exact opposite direction.In addition to optioning four players
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Cactus League schedule called for the Royals to make the long trek southeast to Mesa on Sunday to face the Cubs. But for the Royals' newest addition -- right-handed reliever Justin Grimm -- the GPS pointed in the exact opposite direction.
In addition to optioning four players to Triple-A Omaha and designating Sam Gaviglio for assignment on Sunday morning, the Royals also announced they have signed Grimm, who was released by the Cubs just three days earlier, to a one-year Major League contract worth $1.25 million, with $300,000 in performance-based incentives, according to a source. Grimm had previously lost an arbitration hearing with Chicago and was due to make $2.2 million this season, but the Cubs only owed him roughly $540,000 in termination pay after cutting him on Thursday.
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When the opportunity with the Royals arose quickly after getting cut, Grimm consulted with a name familiar to Royals fans.
"I immediately texted Wade Davis, and he had really nice things to say about the city of Kansas City and the organization, the training staff, the coaches from the top down," Grimm said. "That's one guy that I look up to, and we got really close over the last year when he was with Chicago. So it definitely swayed my decision."
Grimm's 2017 was, well, grim. He made 50 appearances for the Cubs, posting a 5.53 ERA. His biggest bugaboo was the home run ball, as he surrendered 1.95 homers per nine after allowing just 0.7 per nine from '14-16. But he struck out 9.6 batters per nine, and his velocity was intact.
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"Good for him," said Cubs manager Joe Maddon. "I didn't think it would take long [for him to get picked up by another team]. He has a great arm, he's got a good reputation and he's a great teammate. I hope it works out well."
Aside from minor issues (a finger infection in '17 and forearm inflammation in '15), Grimm has been a durable bullpen piece the last four years. Though he only made three Cactus League appearances with the Cubs before getting released, he expects to be ready for the regular season.
"I'm healthy, strong and fresh," he said. "It's going to be there, the adrenaline. It'll be just fine."
Grimm said it was "kind of weird" to change teams mid-camp. He was caught off-guard by the Cubs' decision. But he was excited to join a Royals team that had various comings and goings on Sunday morning. On the heels of 15 games in a 12-day span -- and with just one split-squad day remaining on the Cactus League schedule -- the Royals' need for depth bodies on their spring roster diminished. So it was that right-handers Miguel Almonte and Trevor Oaks, catcher Cam Gallagher and infielder Ramon Torres were Sunday's quartet who were sent packing (Gaviglio was initially optioned before he was removed from the roster to make room for Grimm), with Opening Day a mere 11 days away.
Torres' departure could be construed as good news for non-roster invitee Ryan Goins. If the Royals carry a sixth infielder beyond Mike Moustakas, Lucas Duda, Whit Merrifield, Alcides Escobar and Cheslor Cuthbert on their Opening Day roster (and that is not a given), Goins now stands as the obvious choice for that spot. The 30-year-old Goins has Major League experience at every spot in the infield -- primarily second base and short. He's also had a strong showing in Cactus play, with a .414 average and 1.037 OPS through 29 at-bats. Torres was 10-for-31 (.323) with a pair of doubles before getting sent out.
The other notable move involved Almonte, whose strong spring (one earned run allowed on six hits with a walk and eight strikeouts over nine innings) was not enough to extend his stay.
The Royals are nearing a lot of difficult bullpen decisions with complicated roster implications, and Grimm's arrival only increased the complication. But after dealing with shoulder issues last season, Almonte demonstrated health and effectiveness in this camp and might soon assert himself as a viable big-league option. He posted a 1.72 ERA in 47 innings between Double-A and Triple-A last season.
Sunday's moves brought the Royals' spring roster total to 47 players, including Grimm and not including right-hander Jesse Hahn (60-day disabled list, UCL sprain) and outfielder Jorge Bonifacio (80-game PED suspension). Of the 47 players remaining, 19 are non-roster invitees.
Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns, listen to his podcasts and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.