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Old 12-03-2002, 01:02 AM   #2
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Royals sign three minor-league free agents

By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
Posted on Sat, Nov. 30, 2002

The Royals have jumped into the spirit of the holiday shopping season by signing three minor-league free agents.

Third baseman Jarrod Patterson, 29, spent the last two years in the Detroit organization. He batted .295 last season at Class AAA Toledo, Ohio, with 34 doubles, six triples, 13 homers and 70 RBIs in 117 games.

Right-hander Jason Turman, 27, is a former Seattle prospect who pitched last season in Japan. He was 7-5 with a 2.26 ERA in 2001 at Class AAA Tacoma, Wash.

Right-hander Andres de la Cruz, 22, is a former Yankees prospect who hasn't pitched since 2000 because of arm trouble. He has never pitched above Class A.

Patterson could turn into a significant acquisition because he might be the starting third baseman if the Royals trade Joe Randa.

A left-handed hitter, Patterson batted .268 in 13 games with the Tigers in 2001 after compiling a combined .322 average at Toledo and Class AA Erie, Pa. He did not get a late-season call-up in 2002.

Turman is a 6-foot-10 candidate for a middle-relief job. He struck out 85 and walked 26 in 76 innings in 2001 at Tacoma but opted to play last season in Japan after being released by the Mariners.

He spent most of last summer pitching for the Shonan Searex, a minor-league team, before going 0-2 with a 6.16 ERA in nine games for the Yokohama Bay Stars.

The Royals signed de la Cruz after clocking his fastball in the mid-90s in the Dominican Republic. He was topping out in the high 80s when released by the Yankees. He is likely to open the season in the minors.

Randa's salary rises if traded

Any team looking to acquire Randa must be prepared to shell out $5.5 million next season because his contract contains a clause that increases his salary by $1 million if he gets traded.

If Randa stays with the Royals, he gets $4.5 million in concluding a two-year extension signed before the 2001 season.

Randa's name surfaced recently among Yankees officials, who aren't interested in retaining free agent Robin Ventura at his 2002 salary of $8.5 million.

The Yankees want Ventura, 35, to accept a cut to about $5 million. If he balks, they are likely to seek a replacement. Randa and Mets third baseman Edgardo Alfonzo are believed to be their top preferences.

Unwelcome news

The Royals weren't helped in their quest to hold on to free-agent right-hander Paul Byrd when St. Louis signed pitcher Woody Williams to a two-year contract for $14.9 million.

"That's a marker (on the market)," said Muzzy Jackson, the Royals' assistant general manager for player personnel. "It's something we'll have to deal with."

The Royals are still awaiting word from Byrd and his agent, Bo McKinnis, on their multiyear contract offer -- believed to be valued at less than $4 million a season.

Greinke zeroing in

Right-hander Zack Greinke lowered his ERA to 2.33 by working five scoreless innings in his latest outing for Mayaguez in the Puerto Rican winter league.

Greinke, 19, was the Royals' first-round pick in last June's amateur draft. He has 10 strikeouts and two walks in 191/3 innings and has limited opponents to a .191 batting average. At this point, he is likely to open next season at Class A Wilmington, Del.

Rockies sign Pellow

First baseman Kit Pellow, 29, is heading to the Colorado Rockies after seven often-frustrating seasons in the Royals' organization.

Pellow led Class AAA Omaha in RBIs in each of the last four years but never got a summons to the majors until last August. He was released in October after batting .238 with one homer and five RBIs in 29 games.

Perhaps the thin air at Coors Field can help Pellow duplicate his minor-league hitting prowess; he averaged 25 homers and 81 RBIs per season after joining the Royals as their 22nd-round pick in the 1996 draft. He also has a .276 career average in 803 minor-league games.

At least three other former Royals have signed with other clubs: right-handed starter Chris Fussell, 26, with Atlanta; and infielder Donnie Sadler, 27, and left-handed reliever Brian Shouse, 34, with Texas.
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