JUPITER, Fla. • One of the first teams to show an interest in Seth Maness this offseason is also the team that's giving him a chance to show baseball there may be a quicker path back from a ligament tear.
Maness has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Kansas City Royals, and the contract comes with an invitation to major-league spring training.
A source confirmed that Maness will make $1.25 million if he reaches the majors. He can also opt out of the deal in mid-May if he does not have a spot in the Royals' major-league bullpen. The righthander, set free by the Cardinals this past December, had been looking for a place that would allow him to prove he's ready and healthy for spring training.
For a time, teams believed he would miss 2017 entirely.
The Royals were one of the first teams to express any curiosity in Maness' availability. Major League Baseball's system for injury reporting had Maness coded as a Tommy John recipient. True, he did have his UCL repaired in his right elbow, just as he would with a Tommy John reconstructive surgery. But Maness did not have a complete rebuild of the ligament. Instead, he had a "primary repair" of the ligament. His tear took place at the bone, so Dr. George Paletta was able to reattach the ligament and then build a scaffolding structure out of tape to help aid the ligament as it healed and strengthened.
The surgery, which is relatively new, cut Maness' recovery time by months.
The details of the surgery were chronicled here in the Post-Dispatch, along with what the surgery could mean as the first advancement in elbow repair in almost four decades.
Maness and Cardinals reliever Mitch Harris are two of three professional pitchers to have the surgery. Maness is the only one who had established himself in the majors. The Cardinals declined to tender him a contract offer at the arbitration-eligible deadline in December, allowing him to immediately become a free agent. A week ago, in St. Louis, almost 20 scouts gathered to see Maness throw a bullpen at John Burroughs School and determine if he was, indeed, further ahead on his recovery.
KC official Cal Eldred was one of the scouts who attended, and Eldred has known Maness for years, dating back to when Eldred worked for the Cardinals.
Harris intends to show the Cardinals that same thing. He has already reported to camp here at Roger Dean Stadium, and he's working with the other pitchers. Harris is not in major-league camp so when official workouts begin Tuesday he'll be moving to another side of the complex or delaying his workouts until after the major-league camp ends.