In corresponding moves, the Royals designated reliever Josh Staumont and catcher Logan Porter for assignment.
Among the prospects the Royals did not protect, thus exposing them to the Rule 5 Draft held at the Winter Meetings next month, is former first-rounder Asa Lacy. Lacy, who signed a $6.667 million signing bonus with the Royals when they drafted him No. 4 overall out of Texas A&M in 2020, has had a pro career marred by injuries and disappointments. The 24-year-old has not pitched for an affiliate since 2022, spending this past season throwing side sessions at the Royals’ complex in Arizona after back injuries derailed his spring.
When Lacy was on the mound in '22, he allowed 37 runs (33 earned) in 28 innings while walking 42 and hitting 13 batters. He showed flashes of the stuff that got him drafted -- the upper-90s fastball and nasty breaking pitches -- but struggled to throw strikes.
It seems unlikely a team will take Lacy in the Rule 5 Draft because of his physical uncertainty and the Rule 5 roster restrictions. Teams must pay $100,000 to pick a player in the Rule 5 Draft, and the player must stay on the 26-man roster (or the injured list) all year; if he’s removed, he’s subject to waivers and must be offered back to his original club for $50,000. Players must be active for a minimum of 90 days in order to shed those restrictions for the following season.
Gentry and Klein were in the Royals’ 2020 Draft class, selected in the third and fifth rounds, respectively. Gentry, 24, spent the entire season at Triple-A Omaha in ‘23 and slashed .253/.370/.421 with 16 homers and 28 doubles. He will likely be competing for a corner outfield spot come Spring Training and offers big power as long as he’s controlling the zone.
Klein, 23, made 49 appearances between Double-A and Triple-A this past season and was the Royals’ representative in the 2023 Futures Game. He struck out 93 in 64 1/3 innings despite struggling in Omaha at the end of the year. At 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, Klein is a physically imposing presence on the mound and will compete for a big league bullpen spot in the spring. He averages around 97 mph on his fastball and pairs it with above-average breaking stuff as well as a low-90s changeup.
One other name to watch ahead of the Rule 5 Draft is Tyler Tolbert, a middle infielder turned center fielder who made headlines when he went 60-for-60 on stolen-base attempts in 2022. In '23, he stole 50 bases, hit 10 homers and posted a .755 OPS in Double-A as the Royals’ George Brett Hitter of the Year. A team might select Tolbert because of his speed and center field depth.
The Royals’ 40-man roster remains full ahead of Friday’s tender deadline. Staumont was a non-tender candidate in his second year of arbitration; the 29-year-old threw just 20 innings this past season and is rehabbing from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery.
Porter made his debut in 2023 because of injuries to catchers Salvador Perez and Freddy Fermin. The 28-year-old has an inspiring story, making it to the Majors after first starting out as a clubhouse attendant for the Royals’ Rookie-level affiliate in Surprise, Ariz.