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12/10/09 4:05 PM EST

Royals release Jacobs, Bale

Club opens two roster spots before Rule 5 Draft

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Royals got the last day of the Winter Meetings off to a fast start, requesting unconditional release waivers on designated hitter Mike Jacobs and relief pitcher John Bale early Thursday morning.

The moves reduced the roster to 38 players, leaving open two spots prior to the Rule 5 Draft. The Royals filled one opening by selecting left-handed pitcher Edgar Osuna from the Atlanta organization.

Both Bale and Jacobs struggled in 2009, but Royals general manager Dayton Moore took the high road after releasing them.

"I thought Mike Jacobs played great. He's a winner, he worked hard every day, he was great in our community and he contributed to our organization in a very positive way," Moore said.

"John Bale likewise. He had setbacks, injury-wise, but he battled through them and he's a tremendous contributor. Both individuals will get other opportunities and I expect both of them to do well."

Jacobs, obtained from the Marlins in a trade for reliever Leo Nunez, hit 19 home runs with 61 RBIs and a .228 average after a .247/32/93 line in 2008 in the National League.

Jacobs got off to a good start in his first 36 games, batting .270 with nine homers and 23 RBIs, but fell off rapidly. He began the season as the starting first baseman but quickly lost that job to Billy Butler and went into a designated hitter role.

"I expected Jake to come out and play hard and be a positive influence on our team and that's exactly what he did," Moore said. "His production was very good. It wasn't probably what Jake expected but we're very proud of what he accomplished here in Kansas City."

Jacobs was not caught off guard by his release.

"It's baseball," Jacobs said from San Diego. "After the year I had, I figured they weren't going to tender me anyway. It probably would've been hard to to trade me because other clubs knew I was going to be non-tendered as well. Why are they going to give up prospects or whatever when I'm going to be a free agent and they wouldn't have to give up anything?"

Jacobs felt his numbers would have been better if he would have gotten more than his 434 at-bats.

"With another 200 or 150 at-bats, you're looking at maybe 25 homers and maybe 80 RBIs," he said. "With power hitters, you've got to have the ABs to put up the numbers."

So now Jacobs will start looking for a new club.

"I'm sure it's going to be a situation where I'm going to take a pay cut," he said. "Hopefully, somebody will be willing to take a chance on me and remember what I did in '08 and give me the opportunity to get back to those numbers."

Bale, a left-hander in his third year with the Royals, began the season on the disabled list after undergoing thyroid surgery during Spring Training. Reinstated on May 23, he pitched in a career-high 43 games but posted a 5.72 ERA in 28 1/3 innings with a 0-1 record and one save.

Signed by the Royals as a free agent out of Japan for the 2007 season, his stay was interrupted by injuries, including shoulder and back strains and a broken hand. Manager Trey Hillman tried him as a starter in 2008 but that experiment ended quickly after he lost all three outings and went on the disabled list with shoulder fatigue.

"It certainly wasn't the way John scripted it out," Moore said. "He had some health issues and some bad luck. He's a tremendous competitor. He always took the ball. He never once told Trey or me that he couldn't pitch. He did a terrific job for us."

The Royals are trying to work within a payroll budget of around $70 million and, with both players eligible this year for salary arbitration, sizable raises were anticipated from the $3.25 million made by Jacobs and the $1.2 million by Bale last season.

The Royals still have one roster spot open and that could be filled if Moore is successful in rounding up a catcher. The Royals were reportedly looking at free agents Jason Kendall, Rod Barajas and Jose Molina, among others.

"As you know our roster is a work in progress right now," Moore said.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.