Lovelady is Royals' lone non-tendered player
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals are planning to retain all but one of their players on the 40-man roster for the 2022 season, the club announced Tuesday night after the deadline to tender contracts to players for the upcoming season.
Reliever Richard Lovelady, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery and isn’t expected to pitch next season, was non-tendered to bring the Royals’ roster to 39 players.
All seven of the Royals’ arbitration-eligible players were tendered contracts: right-handers Brad Keller and Scott Barlow; infielders Nicky Lopez and Adalberto Mondesi; outfielder Andrew Benintendi; first baseman/right fielder Ryan O'Hearn; and catcher Cam Gallagher.
Depending on the status of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which expires Wednesday night, the Royals will negotiate with these players in hopes of avoiding an arbitration hearing to determine their salary next season.
Lovelady, 26, posted a 3.48 ERA in 20 2/3 innings before tearing his left ulnar collateral ligament in late August, right when he was beginning to settle in as a reliable lefty in the Royals 'pen. The club’s 10th-round pick out of Kennesaw State University in 2016, Lovelady had yet to latch onto a big league spot since his debut in 2019.
The typical timeline for Tommy John surgery is about one year, so the Royals could re-sign Lovelady to a Minor League contract and oversee his rehab if he’s unable to land a better contract elsewhere.
The Royals are one of the many teams that have largely been quiet during a free-agent frenzy over the past week, spurred by Wednesday night’s expiration of the current CBA. In the span of 24 hours, Max Scherzer agreed to a record-setting deal with the Mets, starter Robbie Ray left Toronto for a $115 million deal in Seattle shortly after starter Kevin Gausman went to Toronto for $110 million, and the Rangers guaranteed more than $500 million to Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, Kole Calhoun and Jon Gray.
In the American League Central, the Royals watched the fast-rising Tigers get better by signing shortstop Javier Báez to a six-year, $140 million deal following their signing of starter Eduardo Rodriguez earlier this month. And the White Sox, the reigning division champions, made their three-year deal with reliever Kendall Graveman official on Tuesday.
The flurry of moves and the Royals’ lack of movement doesn’t mean they don’t have offers out -- although a potential work stoppage with the CBA expiring would likely freeze rosters and transactions. But Kansas City was not going to be in the mix for many of these top free agents anyway; the payroll doesn’t allow it, according to sources, and their offseason moves are more likely to come via trades.
Entering 2022, the Royals have maintained their desire to let their young players continue to transition to the Major Leagues -- including top prospects Bobby Witt Jr., Nick Pratto and MJ Melendez -- and see their young pitchers settle into big league roles. That doesn’t mean the roster is going to stand completely still, as the club has indicated it would like to add a reliever or two, specifically pitchers who can throw multiple innings and have options. But it does mean the Royals are expected to remain quiet at the top of the free-agent market.