With the Kansas City Royals’ offseason in full swing now, we are looking at each team’s free agents and if they make sense to pursue. Up first. The Yankees.
The Kansas City Royals front office will need to be proactive in the free agent market this offseason if they want to avoid another 100-loss year. Certainly, having Salvador Perez back next season will help but he, alone, is not going to prevent that. Especially if the rotation remains the same. While the majority of baseball teams are determining what their course of action of the offseason is going to look like, there are still several teams active in their pursuit for the 2019 World Series Championship.
One of those teams is the New York Yankees. They are truly the Bronx Bombers this year with names like Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres, and Gary Sanchez leading the way for a team that ranked second in baseball with 306 home runs, one shy of the league-leading Minnesota Twins. We’ll see what happens with the Yankees over the course of the next couple of weeks but one thing is for certain, they will have several free agents this offseason. Let’s take a look at each one and determine if the Royals should potentially pursue.
It’s hard to believe that Encarnacion is still in Major League Baseball, let alone a productive bat in the order. The 37-year old was acquired mid-season in a trade with the Seattle Mariners and missed a good amount of time thereafter with a fractured wrist. He’s played in 44 games with the Yankees and has 34 home runs and 86 RBI on the season.
However, the Royals already have a designated hitter in Jorge Soler and he’s 10 years younger than Encarnacion.
Chapman has the opportunity to opt-out of his five-year deal with the Yankees this offseason and the early reports are indicating that he, indeed, will. He’s already refuted these reports but could be playing this one close to the vest. Given his past domestic violence allegations and the cost it would take to sign him, the Royals need to look elsewhere.
Didi Gregorius, SS
The 30-year old shortstop began the 2019 season on the injured list, recovering from Tommy John surgery. He managed to play in 82 games this season and had a 0.238/0.276/0.441 line with 14 doubles, 2 triples, 16 home runs, and 61 RBI. Adalberto Mondesi has had trouble staying healthy but it looks like he’ll potentially be ready to go for Opening Day next year. With an already crowded infield and Gregorius’ decline, that’s a no from me dawg.
Sabathia has already indicated that 2019 will be his final season. Nope.
Brett Gardner, LF
Gardner has been a very productive player for the Yankees over the years and had a career-year in terms of home runs (28) and RBI (74). He recently turned 36 and his production is expected to significantly tail off with whomever he signs with next. If the Kansas City Royals wanted to keep around a 36-year old outfielder, they might as well just bring back Alex Gordon on a much more team-friendly deal.
Betances had a rough go of it this year between having shoulder problems and then tearing his Achilles in his first appearance back. The 32-year-old made $7.5 million this season and I would expect that the Yankees try to bring him back however they can and at whatever cost. Especially if Chapman opts out.
Romine is an intriguing option for the Kansas City Royals. They had a revolving door at the catcher position this year and understandably so, as Perez missed the entire year recovering from Tommy John surgery. The most obvious backup catcher for 2020 would appear to be Cam Gallagher but he did little to impress in the 45 games he appeared in, batting just 0.238 with 7 doubles, 3 home runs, and 12 RBI.
Obviously, a backup catcher is not expected to be as productive as the starter but Callagher threw out just 20 percent of runners on the basepaths, which is well below the league average of 28 percent. Romine, 30, produced a slash line of 0.281/0.310/0.439 with 12 doubles, 8 home runs, and 35 RBI. Plus he threw out 30 percent of runners.
Cory Gearrin, P
The Yankees claimed Gearrin off waivers on August 23 and made 18 appearances out of the bullpen with a 4.50 ERA. He tossed 14.0 innings and allowed 17 hits, 4 walks, but struck out 8. Gearrin has plus pitches in his slider and changeup in which opponents batted just 0.238 and 0.067, respectively. However, they teed off on his fastball, slugging 0.900 on the 76 pitches he threw. The 33-year-old made just $1.4 million this year and I wouldn’t be opposed if the Kansas City Royals signed him to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training.
Cameron Maybin, RF
Maybin has been quite the journeyman in the last five years, playing for the Braves, Tigers, Angels, Astros, Marlins, Mariners, and Yankees. With New York, the 32-year-old produced a slash line of 0.285/0.364/0.494 with 17 doubles, 11 home runs, 32 RBI (127 wRC+). He’s not as fast as he once was on the base paths, swiping just 9 bags this year and was caught 6 times, but could be a valuable mentor if Alex Gordon decides to retire or takes a larger contract with another team. He made the league minimum this season and I would be fine if he received a similar contract with the Royals. It would be an extremely low-risk, high-reward scenario.
Erik Kratz, C
Once a former Kansas City Royal and now 40 years of age, Erik Kratz looks to be just about done. No thanks.
Cliff Pennington, SS
Pennington was signed to a minor league deal in April and was released in early June. Nope.