KC Royals: In the Market for a Discounted Power Bat?
Brewers non-tender Chris Carter, add to glut of free agent sluggers
Milwaukee non-tendered Chris Carter on Monday, choosing to cut ties with the first baseman who led the National League with 41 home runs last season instead of going to arbitration with the 29-year-old slugger.
Carter, who made $2.5 million on a one-year deal with the Brewers in 2016, was projected to earn more than $8 million in 2017 if he went to arbitration despite hitting .221 with a league-high 206 strikeouts.
Carter joins a growing group of sluggers with limited value in the field looking for jobs in 2017. Mike Napoli, Brandon Moss, Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday, Pedro Alvarez, Steve Pearce, Billy Butler and Jon Singleton are all free agents.
It begs the question: Could the Royals land some power on the cheap for a year or two?
Who makes the most sense for the Royals to kick the tires on?
We’ve written a bit about possible DH options and looked at free agents that could be bargain-bin finds. Who else would be a good fit – at a cheap rate – that would provide Kansas City with some much-needed pop in the middle of the lineup?
Mike Napoli, 35, DH/1B
Even at 35, Napoli will most likely be the most sought out of the aforementioned group. The former catcher hit a career-high 34 home runs while helping Cleveland win the AL pennant last season. The right-handed hitting slugger ended the year with a .239 BA/.335 OBP/.800 OPS line.
Oddly, Napoli had one of the most profound home/away splits in the game last year. He hit .281 with 22 home runs and a .958 OPS in 78 games at Cleveland’s Progressive Field, but managed just a .198 batting average, 12 home runs and a .643 OPS on the road. Will that scare way potential suitors – and ideally for the Royals – drive down his asking price?
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Chris Carter, 29 years old, DH/1B
Yes, Carter obviously has some flaws in his swing, whiffing an astronomical total 357 times the past two seasons. But even with his league-high 206 strikeouts in 2016, the right-handed Carter posted a not-horrible .321 on-base percentage. That’s about 30 points higher than the man who led off for the Royals the majority of the season, Alcides Escobar. (Escobar hit atop the Royals’ lineup 82 times and posted a .269 OBP in those games. That’s not a typo: .269.)
And Carter’s got legit power. He hit 37 homers in 145 games for the Astros in 2014, 24 in 129 games again for Houston in 2015 and 41 for Milwaukee last year. There’s worse one-year gambles out there.
Brandon Moss, 33, 1B/DH
The left-handed hitting Moss did almost all of his damage last season against right-handers, clubbing 25 of his 28 homers against righties. Could he be the perfect platoon partner with Cheslor Cuthbert or Paulo Orlando at DH for the Royals? Or for that matter Carter or Napoli, both right-handed hitters?
A career .241 hitter, Moss batted .225 with St. Louis last season and hit his 28 home runs in just 128 games. His best season came in 2013 with Oakland when he hit .256 with 30 homers in 145 games.
Steve Pearce, 33, OF/1B/DH
Not so much a slugger – he hit all of 13 homers last year – but an on-base machine when he’s hot. Pearce was fantastic for Tampa Bay last season, hitting .309 with a .388 OBP in 60 games before he was traded to Baltimore. Pearce’s best season came in 2014 with the Orioles when he hit a career-high 21 homers with a .293 BA/.373 OBP/.930 OPS line in 102 games.
Next: Who's the Royals No. 4 and No. 5 starters in 2017?
Jon Singleton, 25, 1B/DH
Singleton’s major league numbers are terrifying and not in a good way.
In two stints with the Astros – 95 games in 2015 and 19 last year – the 6-foot-2, 230-pound lefty hit .171 with a .290 OBP and a .621 OPS. Oh, and he struck out 151 times in just 114 games.
That being said, Singleton just turned 25 and as recently as 2015 he hit 22 homers in 102 Triple-A games with a respectable .254 average and .865 OPS. As a 22 year old in 2014 he connected on 27 homers splitting his time between Houston and Triple-A Oklahoma City.
After two extremely poor stints with Houston, the Astros ran out of patience with Singleton and non-tendered him earlier this offseason. Maybe he’s a classic Quadruple-A guy, or maybe he’s in desperate need of a change of scenery. Either way, a team’s going to be able to get him on the absolute cheap.