KANSAS CITY -- The Royals added four prospects to their 40-man roster recently to protect them from being picked in the Rule 5 Draft.
The moves, however, maxed out the Royals' 40-man roster, meaning they would not participate in the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 8 unless they clear space no later than the day before. Kansas City lowered its 40-man roster to 39 on Thursday by trading right-hander Brooks Pounders to the Angels in exchange for right-hander Jared Ruxer.
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The two most likely candidates to have been non-tendered by Friday's 7 p.m. CT deadline are already off the roster. Left-hander Tim Collins opted for free agency recently, and catcher Tony Cruz was designated for assignment. Cruz cleared waivers and is now a free agent.
The rest of the 40-man roster appears set, barring a trade, though the Royals could look to explore letting players like left-hander Scott Alexander go in the hopes of re-signing either later.
There would be some risk in letting Alexander go, even if only temporarily, as he posted a 3.32 ERA in 17 games last season, and most teams covet left-handed relievers.
On the flip side, Alexander is 27, and he allowed six of seven inherited runners to score (85 percent) in 2016, the worst percentage on the team. The Royals also have Brian Flynn and potentially Matt Strahm to serve as left-handers in the bullpen going forward.
Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.