Royals decline options on three players
Olivo, Crisp and Yabuta to test the free-agent market
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals declined contract options on catcher Miguel Olivo, center fielder Coco Crisp and pitcher Yasuhiko Yabuta on Friday, making them eligible to file for free agency.
Olivo, who was the Royals' primary catcher last season, held a mutual option with the Royals. But the club took the initiative, paying him a $100,000 buyout rather than pick up his $3.3-million deal for 2010.
The club held an $8-million option on Crisp's contract, which carried over with his trade from the Red Sox last winter. The club has to pay $500,000 to opt out of the deal.
Yabuta's $4-million contract option also cost the Royals $500,000. It was the third year of a deal he signed with the Royals when he came over from Japan.
Olivo and Crisp can file as six-year Major League free agents. Yabuta can become a free agent unless he re-signs with the Royals by Nov. 16.
Olivo led the club with 23 home runs and had 65 RBIs in 114 games. He was the starting catcher 97 times. Crisp, who batted .228 but had 13 stolen bases in 49 games, missed most of the season because of surgery on both shoulders. Yabuta spent much of his two seasons in the Minors; in 43 games with the Royals, his cumulative record was 3-4 with a 7.14 ERA.
Royals general manager Dayton Moore did not rule out the possibility of re-signing the players.
"We'll see how the offseason unfolds and we're going to be open-minded to every opportunity that exists and those three players will certainly be in the mix," Moore said.
Moore was impressed by Crisp, for whom he traded last season, before he was sidelined by surgery on both shoulders.
"Coco is a very dynamic player, he's an above-average to good center fielder, he was performing well in the leadoff role. I think his talent blended in with the group we put together and he would have excelled, but we'll see how that skill set blends in with what we're able to do [this offseason]," Moore said.
"As you know, it's important to have somebody in center field that can go get the ball. We like Mitch Maier, we think he made a lot of improvements and hit well against left-handed pitching and continued to show he had some upside."
The Royals' catching situation was uncertain at times last year, although Olivo did the bulk of it. But the club still has John Buck, who was the regular catcher for the previous 3 1/2 seasons, and Brayan Pena on the roster.
"We'll continue to evaluate them as we get into the offseason and compare their abilility with the other catchers that are out there," Moore said.
It's a thin market, as usual, for catchers this year.
It would be a surprise if the Royals brought back Yabuta after his struggles in his two seasons.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.