The non-tender deadline has come and gone, and for the Royals, there wasn’t much excitement. As expected, they non-tendered Chris Getz while tendering contracts to the eight other arbitration eligible players. The team even announced the decision early in the day, which took almost all of the fun out of the process. But now that more players have been non-tendered, the free agent class has deepened significantly. A team likely isn’t going to find an MVP-type player among those non-tendered, but there is always a multitude of buy-low candidates available for teams willing to take a little risk.
As you already know, the Royals should be looking for another starting pitcher with upside, an outfielder, and a second baseman. If we’re being totally honest, finding some third base and shortstop depth wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world, either, but the front office probably isn’t concerned with those positions just yet. With that being said, here are a few players who’ve been non-tendered who could be targeted by the Royals this offseason:
Hudson has undergone 2 Tommy John surgeries and only has 1 full major league season under his belt. However, that 2011 season was excellent (4.8 fWAR, 3.49 ERA in 222.1 IP), he has strong peripherals in his career (7.17 K/9, 2.31 BB/9, 3.59 FIP), and his flyball tendencies would play well in Kauffman Stadium. I’d expect there to be quite a bit of interest in Hudson as a reclamation project, because if he’s healthy, the 26 year old righty still has plenty of upside.
David Adams, 3B/2B
Adams will be 27 in 2014, and after putting up solid numbers throughout his minor league career, he posted just a .538 OPS for the Yankees last season in 152 plate appearances. He’s a right-handed third baseman with a good track record for plate discipline, so if the Royals could stash him in Omaha as insurance in case of a repeat of 2013 for Mike Moustakas, getting Adams would be a solid move.
Tommy Hanson, P
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of Hanson, but I’ve seen other fans mention his name so I thought I’d throw it out there. His velocity has been down in recent years, and he doesn’t seem to pitch well at lower speeds, posting an ERA of 4.76 since the start of 2012. There isn’t much shine left on this former top prospect, but if he could be had on a minor league deal, Hanson could offer rotation depth with a very slim chance at some upside.
Ryan Kalish, OF
For some reason, it seems like Kalish has been around forever, but he’s actually just 25 years old. Kalish has a very strong minor league track record, with a .794 OPS and 11.7% walk rate. His major league career has not been as impressive, holding just a .644 OPS and 6.4% walk rate. He’s not a great defensive outfielder according to the metrics, but if Kalish can start using the same approach he had in the minors, the Royals could use his bat in right field.
Xavier Paul, OF
Paul spent the last 3 seasons in the Reds’ organization, and while his fielding hasn’t rated well, he could be an interesting platoon option in right field. Against right-handed pitching, Paul has a career .733 OPS and a walk rate of 8%. His patience was even better in 2013, drawing walks in 11.3% of his 239 plate appearances in Cincinnati. Even if Paul isn’t a huge upgrade over Jarrod Dyson or David Lough, he could be an effective left-handed bench bat for pinch-hitting situations.
There are a few other somewhat intriguing names out there, including Chris Nelson, Jeremy Hefner, Tyler Cloyd, and former Pirates’ slugger Garrett Jones. For a small market team, buying low on players with upside is always a great strategy, and Dayton Moore has had success in that market in the past, so it will be interesting to see if the Royals are linked to any of the above names as they continue to improve their roster for next season.