5 ex-KC Royals who may be a bit too close to home

(Photo by Brian Davidson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brian Davidson/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

A former prospect of the KC Royals used to be best known for his inclusion in two of the best trades in club history. He’s now a mainstay player in his own right and a potential thorn in his old team’s side.

The 2012 season was Jake Odorizzi‘s fifth professional baseball campaign, and it was good to him. After going 10-7 for two KC Royals’ farm clubs in 2011–his first season after being acquired from Milwaukee in the trade that brought Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar to KC–Odorizzi posted a stellar 15-5 record between AA Northwest Arkansas and AAA Omaha to earn a late-season call-up to the Royals. He only appeared in two September games but entered the winter as one of the club’s top prospects.

But baseball’s exigencies make it fickle and the game turned a bit on Odorizzi on December 9, 2012 when, despite the high esteem in which the Royals held him, they dealt him to Tampa Bay in the then-controversial trade that sent him, Wil Myers, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard to the Rays for James Shields and Wade Davis. It was one of the best deals in club history.

Odorizzi became a serviceable starter in five seasons with the Rays and another in Minnesota, winning 11 games once and 10 games twice. It was last season, however, when the Twins surprisingly won the AL Central, that Odorizzi truly established himself as a rotation staple. He went 15-7 in 30 starts with a 131 ERA+ (3.51 ERA) and averaged just over 10 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. He then accepted Minnesota’s Qualifying Offer, tying him to the club for another season.

Now a mainstay in Minnesota, Odorizzi will likely face Kansas City more than once in 2020. He has a 3-5 career record in 11 games against the Royals, who have a .266/.322/.413 slash and .735 OPS against him. Whether KC will continue its success against Odorizzi remains to be seen, but the prospect seems questionable–the Twins have improved their roster this winter while KC remains conservative. Chances of Odorizzi hurting the Royals in 2020 are good.

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