With Ben Zobrist, Alex Gordon and Alex Rios as free agents, the Kansas City Royals outfield is quite thin. Right now, the starting outfield would have some combination of Lorenzo Cain, Jarrod Dyson and Paulo Orlando, certainly an excellent defensive alignment, but one that is potentially lacking on offense.
However, perhaps with that in mind, the Royals made an interesting move on Friday, adding Jose Martinez to the 40 man roster. Normally, this would not be news, as Martinez is a career minor leaguer, but his 2015 season was not the typical year. Last year, Martinez set a modern day Pacific Coast League record as he produced a .384/.461/.563 batting line, flirting with the fabled .400 mark for much of the season.
While this move was seemingly made to protect Martinez from the Rule V Draft, it could also be that he is finally going to get a long look during Spring Training. Despite playing professionally since 2006 and bouncing around four different organizations, Martinez had never reached the AAA level until last season. Then, at age 26, he produced a season for the ages.
At 27 years of age heading into the 2016 season, Martinez is just about to enter his hypothetical prime. Even if he is not much of a power threat, with fifty home runs and 134 doubles in his career, he has displayed an excellent ability to make contact. His overall 16.6% strikeout rate over his minor league career, including a 15.4% rate last season, would certainly make Martinez a solid fit on the Kansas City Royals.
Primarily a right fielder in his nine year minor league career, Martinez split his time between left and right last season for Omaha. Even if he is not likely to crack the starting lineup as a regular, Martinez could potentially fill in that backup role that Orlando had last season. Given the uncertainty around the Royals outfield at present, Martinez could potentially become an important piece in Kansas City.
Depending on what happens in free agency, Jose Martinez may finally get his chance with the Kansas City Royals. If nothing else, he appears set to get a long look in Spring Training to potentially force his way on to the roster.