Royals associates joined Rex Hudler, Steve Stewart and Sluggerrr today at the Johnson County Christmas Bureau. They teamed up to distribute food, winter clothing and holiday gifts. The JCCB is a volunteer, non-profit organization and United Way agency created in 1960 that provides necessary assistance to low-income families of Johnson County, Kansas. Qualified low-income families and individuals are scheduled by appointment and assisted by a volunteer during one of the nine days of the Holiday Shop to select groceries, toys, gifts, personal care items and clothing for their families. The Holiday Shop was established in 1977.
Our broadcasters paused from their work to take a photo with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
The Royals and General Manager Dayton Moore held a conference call with reporters Thursday morning following KC’s acquisition of outfielder Norichika Aoki (pronounced: nor-EACH-kah AH-okee) for left-handed pitcher Will Smith.
The first questions revolved around how this trade impacts additional offseason possibilities. Moore feels that his team is improved, but doesn’t feel that the offseason is complete, saying that the situation is fluid. The Royals will continue to pursue players through trades and free agency.
Moore noted that Aoki can play all three outfield positions. The Royals see him as an above-average right fielder who has enough athleticism to play center field. He runs very good routes in the outfield and is a smart, instinctive player. Aoki played all three outfield positions in Milwaukee, with most of the work as a right fielder.
Moore said that new third base coach Dale Sveum likes Aoki’s abilities after seeing him play against the Cubs the last two years. Aoki figures to be KC’s leadoff hitter, which will move Alex Gordon more toward the middle of the lineup.
Smith, 24, spent parts of the last two seasons at the Major League level, making 16 starts in 2012 before moving to a bullpen role midway through 2013. Smith excelled in the bullpen role, holding batters to a .170 average. Moore said that all deals come with a cost and you have to give up quality (players) in order to acquire quality.
The Royals announced today that they have acquired outfielder Norichika Aoki (pronounced: nor-EACH-kah AH-okee) from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for left-handed pitcher Will Smith.
Aoki, 31, batted .286 with eight home runs, 37 RBI and 20 stolen bases for Milwaukee in 2013. He ranked second in the Major Leagues with 40 infield hits, while he led the National League in singles (140), tied for seventh in multi-hit games (50), seventh in times reaching base (237) and tied for 10th in hits (171). Aoki hit .339 (60-for-181) against left-handed pitching last season, the top average by a left-handed hitter in the Major Leagues. He also struck out just 40 times in 674 plate appearances for an MLB-leading 16.9 at-bats per strikeout ratio.
Aoki was signed by the Brewers prior to the 2012 season after playing eight seasons with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows of the Japanese Central League (2004-11). He batted .288 during his rookie campaign with the Brewers, collecting 10 homers, 50 RBI and 30 stolen bases in 151 games. He finished fifth in National League Rookie of the Year voting, leading all first-year players in steals and tied San Diego’s Yonder Alonso for the N.L. rookie lead in hits (150).
He hit .329 with 84 homers, 385 RBI and 164 stolen bases during his career in Japan. Aoki won the Central League’s batting championship three times: 2005 (.344), 2007 (.346) and 2010 (.358) and hit over .300 in seven of his eight seasons in the league. He is the only player in Nippon Professional Baseball history with two 200-plus hit seasons (2005 and 2010). Aoki was a seven-time recipient of the Best Nine Award (Japanese equivalent of the Silver Slugger Award), a six-time Gold Glove honoree in center field and was the 2005 Central League Rookie of the Year. He was also a member of both of Japan’s World Baseball Classic championship teams in 2006 and 2009.
He will become the first Japanese-born position player to suit up for the Royals.
Smith, 24, went 2-1 with a 3.24 ERA in 19 appearances (18 as a reliever) for the Royals last season.
The Royals announced today that the club will not tender a 2014 Major League contract to infielder Chris Getz, making him a free agent. The Royals’ Major League roster now stands at 39 players.
Getz, 30, joined the Royals in a 2009 trade with the Chicago White Sox. He batted .220 with 18 RBI and 16 stolen bases in 78 games with KC in 2013.
We hope you had a great Thanksgiving! Last week, Royals associates joined pitcher Jeremy Guthrie to serve a meal at Guadalupe Center in Kansas City.
The Guadalupe Centers, Inc. began in 1919 and is the longest continually-operating organization serving Latinos in the United States. It strives to improve the quality of life for individuals in the Latino communities of the Kansas City area by providing educational programs, facilitating access to health and social services, promoting and providing Latino cultural enrichment events, and sponsoring social activities.
The Kansas City Royals announced today that the club has traded catcher George Kottaras to the Chicago Cubs for cash considerations. Kottaras was designated for assignment on November 22.
Kottaras, 30, played in 46 games for the Royals last season, making 29 starts behind the plate. The left-handed hitting catcher batted .180 with five homers and 12 RBI. He also drew 24 walks, which led the Major Leagues among players with 150 or fewer plate appearances. His .349 on-base percentage ranked sixth among American League backstops that played at least 40 games.
Changes to the road alternate “royal blue” uniform include:
• The jersey will feature the Royals classic KC logo, which also appears on the club’s cap.
• The royal blue jersey will be trimmed in white and powder blue piping, and the numeral and player name will be white with a powder blue outline.
• The classic KC logo will appear on a Royals regular season game uniform for the first time in club history, and the new look includes several design elements featured in the club’s various blue “batting practice” jerseys worn from the 1980s into the early 2000s.
“The KC logo continues to be extremely popular with our fan base and is synonymous with Kansas City,” said Kevin Uhlich, Royals Sr. Vice President-Business Operations. “With that in mind, the Royals are excited to incorporate the logo into our uniform collection for the 2014 season.”
The Royals Majestic Team Store, located at Gate C of Kauffman Stadium, will offer the new jersey exclusively through Monday, December 2 and has announced special holiday hours for fans looking for the perfect Royals gift for friends and family. The store will be open today at 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Special holiday shopping hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays from noon-6 p.m. through December 23. The store is closed on Thanksgiving Day, but will be open for extended hours the following day – Friday, November 29 – from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The Royals announced today that the club has signed six players to minor league contracts for the 2014 season. The club plans to announce Major League Spring Training invitations at a later date.
Outfielder Gorkys Hernandez, 26, finished 2013 at Triple-A Omaha, playing in 34 games after a July 22 trade from the Marlins organization. His 25 combined stolen bases with New Orleans and Omaha tied for fifth in the Pacific Coast League. A .278 hitter over eight minor league seasons, Hernandez played in 70 games with Pittsburgh and Miami in 2012.
Third baseman Brandon Laird, 26, joins the Royals from the Houston Astros. The younger brother of veteran catcher Gerald Laird, Brandon has had Major League stints in each of the last three seasons. He recorded five home runs and 11 RBI in 25 games for the Astros in 2013 and spent the majority of the year at Triple-A Oklahoma City, batting .277 with 16 home runs and 79 RBI. Laird began his career in the New York Yankees organization, earning Eastern League (AA) MVP honors in 2010 and a Rawlings Minor League Gold Glove in 2011.
Outfielder Paulo Orlando, 28, batted .276 with five home runs and 46 RBI in 92 games for Omaha in 2013. Orlando also represented his native Brazil in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. A .270 hitter over eight minor league seasons, Orlando joined the Royals in a 2008 trade with the Chicago White Sox.
Outfielder Edinson Rincon, 23, played in a combined 24 games at Surprise and Northwest Arkansas in 2013 as he recovered from left knee surgery. The native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, was acquired from the San Diego Padres on June 6, 2013. Rincon has posted a .285 average over 508 minor league games since 2007.
Right-handed pitcher Wilking Rodriguez, 23, joins the Royals after seven seasons in the Tampa Bay Rays organization. Rodriguez was limited to eight appearances in 2013 as he recovered from a shoulder injury. He tossed 9.0 scoreless innings for the Gulf Coast Rays in 2013 and has made 88 career appearances (64 starts), posting a 3.90 ERA over 309.1 innings.
Right-handed pitcher P.J. Walters, 28, made eight starts for the Minnesota Twins last season, going 2-5 with a 5.95 ERA in 39.1 innings. Walters also compiled a 7-5 mark and a 4.18 ERA in 19 starts at Rochester (AAA). He has pitched in parts of five Major League seasons for St. Louis (2009-11), Toronto (2011) and Minnesota (2012-13), going 6-10 with a 6.28 ERA in 152.0 innings.
Some Major League players are linked to one number throughout their careers while others are fine with switching from time to time. We were visiting with reporters before yesterday’s press conference and the question came up – what number(s) had Jason Vargas worn previously and what number would he wear in KC? A quick search of baseball-reference.com revealed that the lefty has donned 56 (Marlins), 43 (Mets), 38 (Mariners) and 60 (Angels). We knew 51 was his new choice, but why 51? The question was asked early in the press conference…Vargas looked at all of the available numbers and left the decision to three-year-old daughter Elizabeth. Vargas will be the 15th Royal to wear 51 in the regular season. The list includes Johnny Damon, who wore the number as a rookie in 1995 before switching to 18, and Jonathan Broxton, the last player to wear the number (2012). Great choice, Elizabeth! 51 it is!