Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Kyle Zimmer will start the season in Triple A. Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals have optioned right-hander Kyle Zimmer, lefty Gabe Speier and third baseman Kelvin Gutierrez to Triple-A Omaha, per a club announcement.

Zimmer was granted a fourth option year by the league after missing multiple option seasons due to injury. It’s a somewhat uncommon but hardly unheard of circumstance, and one that’ll benefit both Zimmer and the Royals for the (hopefully) upcoming season. The 28-year-old Zimmer was the fifth overall pick in the 2012 draft but has been limited to just 331 1/3 career innings between the big leagues and the minors thanks to a wide-ranging slate of injuries. Zimmer has already undergone shoulder surgery and thoracic outlet surgery, and from 2016-18, arm troubles limited him to just 43 1/3 innings in total.

Zimmer returned to the mound in 2019 after missing the entire 2018 campaign, pitching 54 innings of 4.33 ERA ball in Triple-A and eventually making his MLB debut. He was hit hard in the Majors — 22 runs on 28 hits and 19 walks in 18 1/3 innings — but the Royals opted to keep him on the 40-man roster despite those struggles. He’ll apparently open the year in Omaha and hope to work his way into the bullpen mix during the season.

Speier, too, made his MLB debut in 2019, though he also struggled a bit (six runs in 7 1/3 innings). The 24-year-old southpaw has been included in enough notable trades to be the answer to a trivia question, having gone from Boston to Detroit in the Yoenis Cespedes/Rick Porcello swap; from Detroit to Atlanta in a Cameron Maybin deal; from Atlanta to Arizona in the ill-fated Shelby Miller/Dansby Swanson trade; and from Arizona to Kansas City in return for Jon Jay. He’s been successful up through the Double-A level and could be a bullpen option for the Royals at some point in 2020 as well.

The 25-year-old Gutierrez hit .287/.367/.427 in 327 plate appearances with Omaha last year but managed just a .260/.304/.356 slash in a handful of MLB plate appearances. The Royals picked him up from the Nationals in the trade that sent Kelvin Herrera to D.C., and he’s generally considered a quality defender with a good hit tool but limited power. The Royals’ signing of Maikel Franco blocked Gutierrez from getting a longer look at third base, but he’d likely be first in line for a look should Franco land on the IL or struggle extensively.

This article first appeared on MLB Trade Rumors and was syndicated with permission.


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