Nebraska native Jake Diekman agrees to deal with Kansas City Royals

Nebraska native Jake Diekman agrees to deal with Kansas City Royals
Jake Diekman opened last season with the Rangers before being dealt to the Diamondbacks prior to the trade deadline. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Wymore, Nebraska, native Jake Diekman signed a one-year, $2.25 million contract with the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday.

The 32-year-old left-handed reliever has served as a set-up man during his major league career with Philadelphia, Texas and Arizona. His contract also has a mutual option for the 2020 season.

Diekman opened last season with the Rangers before being dealt to the Diamondbacks prior to the trade deadline. He appeared in 71 games, going 1-2 with two saves, 17 holds and a 4.73 ERA. He ranked seventh among left-handed relievers in appearances and struck out 66 in 53 1⁄3 innings.

Diekman’s journey to the majors started after he pitched at Doane and Cloud County Community College (Kan.) before being drafted in 2007 in the 30th round by the Philadelphia Phillies.

He reached the majors in 2012 and pitched for the Phillies until 2015, when he was traded to Texas.

During his seven seasons, Diekman has averaged 11.05 strikeouts per nine innings, which ranks second in the majors among active left-handed relievers who have worked at least 300 innings.

He trails only Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman.

The Royals made room on the 40-man roster by placing right-hander Jesse Hahn on the 60-day injured list. Hahn is still recovering from Tommy John surgery and is not expected back before opening day.

The Royals’ bullpen was a mess all of last season, and there are plenty of jobs up for grabs in spring training. Kevin McCarthy and Wily Peralta are the only safe bets to make the team.

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