Another GMDM stealth move came today where the Royals signed third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff to a minor league contract. The deal will pay Kouzmanoff $1 million if he makes the major league team with an opportunity to earn an extra $300,000 in incentives. The deal also includes an opt-out in that he can leave the organization if he’s not on the major league roster by May 1.
The opt out says this isn’t a move to stock the minors with organizational filler. This is the Royals accumulating players to provide options as they move toward Opening Day. The Royals signed Yuniesky Betancourt to be their utility infielder, but they’re only kidding themselves if they think he can play third. (I’ll buy him as a second baseman – barely. But there’s no way he can play the hot corner.) Kouzmanoff provides cover at third.
I suppose if Mike Moustakas struggles in the spring, he could be shipped to Omaha to start the season. It’s also likely a slow April could see him exiled back to Triple-A. I don’t see that as a real possibility. Moose struggled last season, but the Royals showed great patience and they were rewarded when he made the proper adjustments and finished the season strong. Not to say there shouldn’t be any competition, but unless Moose has just a catastrophic spring, there’s no way he shouldn’t be the teams third baseman.
Kouzmanoff has a career .300 OBP and a 4.6% walk rate. He has some power, but has played the majority of his career in San Diego and Oakland, two places that are death to hitting. He’s 30 and has almost 2,800 career major league plate appearances, so it’s not like his approach is going to change. But I don’t expect to see him in Kansas City. I suppose he could stick as a right handed bat off the bench, but since the Royals will need a fifth starter early in the season and we know that Yost loves the eight man bullpen, there won’t be room for him. You have Our Mitch as the backup outfielder, the Yunigma on the infield and Pena as a backup catcher. Kouzmanoff is insurance. Break glass in case of emergency. That’s all.
And for the financial outlay, that’s not a bad thing.