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Royals Sign Chris Withrow, Al Alburquerque, Brandon League To Minor League Deals

The Royals have signed veteran righties Chris Withrow, Al Alburquerque and Brandon League to minor league deals with Spring Training invites, Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com writes (Twitter links). Flanagan also notes the minor league signings of pitchers Bobby Parnell and Jonathan Sanchez, which had been previously reported; those two will combine with Withrow, Albuquerque and League to form a long list of formerly effective veterans who could compete for spots on the Royals’ pitching staff.

The 27-year-old Withrow was formerly a first-round pick of the Dodgers. After heading to Atlanta in a six-player deal involving Juan Uribe and Alberto Callaspo, Withrow spent 2016 with the Braves, where he posted a 3.58 ERA and an average fastball velocity approaching the mid-90s, but with an underwhelming 6.7 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 37 2/3 innings. He ended last season with over three years of service time after spending 2015 on the shelf recovering from Tommy John surgery, and the Braves non-tendered him last month.

Alburquerque spent the 2016 season in the Angels and Mariners organizations, appearing briefly in the big leagues with the Angels and posting a 3.74 ERA, 9.4 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9 in 33 2/3 innings in the minors. The formerly hard-throwing Tigers reliever has seen his velocity dip to the low 90s in recent seasons. It’s possible some of that velocity drop might have some connection to his contraction of the Chikungunya virus in 2015, however, and the 30-year-old has proven to be an effective, if control-challenged, big-league reliever in the past.

League has not pitched since 2015, or in the big leagues since 2014, after struggling with shoulder trouble. The 33-year-old formerly served as a closer for the Mariners and Dodgers, but the Dodgers released him before the expiration of his three-year, $22.5MM contract with them. He has a 3.65 ERA, 6.3 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in parts of 11 seasons with the big leagues.