Kansas City Royals: Making the case, Tampa Bay Rays free agents

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

The Kansas City Royals would love the duplicate the Tampa Bay success of a small market team. Are there free agents from the Rays that could help KC?

Nothing drives home the point like the fact that two of the teams that made the playoffs, the Oakland A’s and Tampa Bay Rays, had payrolls smaller than the Kansas City Royals. Oakland was $8 million less the Kansas City and Tampa Bay was a staggering $36 million less. The roster savviness of these two franchises should have all Royals fans wondering why we could not pull it off.

The Rays offense is littered with power from top to bottom, there are no soft outs in the lineup. Nine hitters reached double digits in long balls led by Austin Meadows with 33. Also supplying pop was Tommy Pham (21), Willy Adames (20) and Ji-Man Choi (19). Even utility player Travis d’Arnaud, who was an afterthought in an early-season trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers, got in on the action while only collecting 327 at-bats with 16 blasts. The team ranked third in triples and fifth in stolen bases as well.

Although coming off an All-Star season the previous year with the Houston Astros, at 34-years-old the Rays were taking a gamble by signing Charlie Morton to a contract doubling his previous salary. With Tampa Bay though, these are calculated risks and they often work out as this did with a 16-6 record, 3.05 ERA and a major league-leading 0.7 home runs allowed per nine innings. Other hurlers such as Tyler Glasnow, Yonny Chirinos, Emilio Pagan, and Ryan Yarbrough rounded a young, but effective, rotation and relief corp that led to 96 wins.

First in ERA, home runs allowed, third in strikeouts, and the second least hits, runs, and earned runs allowed are accomplishments of this team. Often using the “opener” pitching strategy that saw a pitcher begin the game throwing to the first several batters before turning it over to another arm who would go deeper into the game was extremely effective and caught on with other teams.

The only unfortunate part of looking at free agents the Royals could sign from the Rays is that Tampa Bay has done such a good job of bringing up players through their minor league system, trading and signing players, there are only a few options the Royals can choose from.

Avisail Garcia, RF

Save for an All-Star year in 2017, Garcia put together several nondescript seasons with the Chicago White Sox from 2013-2018. He was non-tendered by the club and finalized a one year deal with Tampa that paid him $3.5 million, which was $3.2 million less than the prior year with the Pale Hose. What a steal that turned out to be as he blasted 20 homers, stole ten bags and posted an OPS+ of 111.

Had this been the previous offseason I would have said the Royals should seriously look at acquiring his talents. However, with a new owner and the optimism of a new TV deal to generate additional revenue, Kansas City needs to spend bigger money and sign a more dynamic outfielder.


Eric Sogard, 2B

Brought over in deadline deal trade with the Toronto Blue Jays, Sogard was serviceable in a limited role with the Rays.  He played better in his time north of border slashing a .300/.363/.477 line which dropped by over 100 points once in Tampa.

He would come cheap and is a decent bat and utility player but with the Royals youngsters like Adalberto Mondesi and Hunter Dozier dominating the infield and Whit Merrifield plus other potential talent in the outfield, we need not take away at-bats from these deserving players.


Travis d’Arnaud, C

As mentioned above, d’Arnaud was an excellent pickup and gave the Rays much-needed depth at the catching position.  Heading into his 31st year in 2020, he still has years left to give at the big league level.  He is probably due for an increase in salary due to his flexibility in the field and offense.

The Kansas City Royals showed they are in trouble if Salvador Perez is unable to play catcher due to injury again down the road.  They have some potential in MJ Melendez but his time is not yet here.  Having a veteran backstop who can spell Perez more in 2020 is a good idea.


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Emilio Bonifacio, OF

Bonifacio has not sniffed the majors since 2017 and did okay at the triple-A level for Tampa in 2019, but at 35-years-old he has nothing to give to the Royals.  He had a short and unremarkable stint with Kansas City in 2013 and no need to revisit that.