As baseball is at a standstill ahead of what appears to be an imminent lockout on Wednesday night, the Kansas City Royals are making their first free agent moves of the offseason. The club has signed pitcher Richard Lovelady and outfielder JaCoby Jones to minor league contracts.
Lovelady, who was the only Royal to be non-tendered on Tuesday evening, is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery he underwent in September. He's a lifetime member of the team and boasts a 5.62 ERA in just 41.2 innings pitched. His 2021 campaign was off to a great start before his injury, as he sported a 3.48 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 20 games.
The left-handed reliever avoided waivers by being non-tendered and is also no longer on the club's 40-man roster. It remains to be seen whether he'll pitch in 2022, although his late-season procedure suggests that it's unlikely.
Jones, a 19th-round MLB Draft pick by the Houston Astros in 2010 and a third-round selection by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2013, has played for only the Detroit Tigers at the MLB level. Across nearly 1,200 plate appearances with the club, he posted a .212/.275/.371 line with a .646 OPS and 389 strikeouts in just 352 games. He has experience playing all three outfield positions and is 29 years old.
Jones's best season came in the abbreviated 2020 campaign. Across 30 games, he posted a .849 OPS fueled by a scorching .515 SLG and added nine doubles and five home runs. In 36 games in 2021, his OPS was a career-low .460 and his OPS+ was just 29.
Neither signing is a splash move by the Royals, who are standing pat and avoiding making any major additions to the team as of now. It remains to be seen how much impact either player will have on the organization in 2022 — if any — and as the lockout approaches, this could be the only piece of transaction news the club announces for a while.