The Royals announced Wednesday that they’ve designated outfielder Nick Heath for assignment, reinstated righty Josh Staumont from the injured list and optioned righty Carlos Hernandez to their alternate site. Staumont was only just placed on the injured list earlier this week, though the Royals did not specify a reason.
Players can be placed on the injured list for Covid-19 related reasons — a positive test, close contact with someone who was positive, or self-reported symptoms — and briefly be removed from the 40-man roster while on the IL. Staumont has obviously been cleared to return in a day’s time, which suggests there was no positive test. However, the Royals also selected the contract of veteran righty Ervin Santana last night, so with Staumont now coming back onto the active roster, they needed a 40-man spot. Heath’s DFA will provide that roster spot.
Heath, 27, made his MLB debut in 2020 and went 2-for-13 with a double and a pair of steals in four tries. He’s not a particularly imposing threat at the plate, evidenced by a .266/.348/.361 batting line in four minor league seasons, but Heath is one of the fastest players in professional ball. Scouting reports at FanGraphs, MLB.com and Baseball America peg him at either 70- or 80-grade speed on the 20-80 scale. He’s swiped 160 bases in 200 tries (80 percent) through just 323 total minor league games.
Heath can play all three outfield spots and has a full slate of three minor league options remaining, so he could certainly intrigue another club in a minor trade or in the event that the Royals try to pass him through outright waivers. Kansas City will have a week to trade him or place him on waivers.