The KC Royals will have plenty of decisions to make during the offseason, but finding some stability at third base could be at the top of the list.
The KC Royals have a long offseason ahead of them. They have a lot of players who are eligible for arbitration, players that likely need to be cut, and plenty that could find themselves on the 40 man roster or close to it if needed.
The Royals often settle, not typically going through arbitration, but instead coming to a deal with the player in question. With the number of players they have to work with this year, some may push through if they aren’t offered what they feel they deserve.
It’s likely, as well, that multiple players will receiver longer contracts. While players like Brad Keller and Hunter Dozier may come to mind first, one player that should also be considered is Maikel Franco.
When the Royals originally signed Franco during the last offseason, there were some concerns. He didn’t seem to be an improvement defensively at third and while he had shown some power before at the plate, there were questions about whether or not he could sustain it.
Once the season began, though, Franco did what was expected of him. He finished the season with a slash of .278/.321/.457, providing 38 RBIs, 8 home runs, and 16 doubles. The Royals offense as a whole struggled, but Franco found a way to come through in some important moments when needed.
Defensively, he did struggle at times. His sidearm throw got him into trouble when trying to get the ball to first a time or two, but as the season progressed, his defense seemed to get better and better. By the time the season ended, his signing by the Royals could be seen as a success. Now, Franco may be in a tough spot with Kansas City.
It has been said that Franco is a good person to have in the clubhouse. The Royals enjoyed having him and he has a good personality that helps motivate people. Franco was visibly vocal and animated during the season, and his desire to succeed showed.
What puts him in a tough spot, though, is the future of the infield in Kansas City. Adalberto Mondesi looks to be the mainstay at shortstop. If this is the case, there has to be somewhere for Bobby Witt Jr. to go, and third base is the most likely move.
Still, if agreeable, a 2-3 year deal for Franco could be in the best interest of the club.
The Royals need consistency, which is something they have struggled with at the infield corners since their World Series team broke up.
At third, the Royals have prospect Kelvin Gutierrez in the minors, but after a few short stints in the majors, they still seem unsure about his potential. Franco provides the consistency that they need.
His time with the Royals saw improved defense, and he was a fairly consistent bat, providing some power and the ability to drive in runs.
While a contract for Franco could be seen ultimately as a hindrance to the Royals bringing up Witt Jr., it does provide for some more versatility if needed.
Mondesi has to prove that he can stick in the majors. If he struggles again in 2021, it may be time to consider other options. If he does stick around, Witt Jr. will need to move, but having Franco at third can provide more time.
Witt Jr. has only played in 37 rookie league games. While he looks as though he could hold his own in the majors now, there is no reason to rush him, especially if he will be expected to move positions. Even though he has done some work at third, if Franco can provide consistency there for a while, the Royals can focus on developing Witt Jr. instead of rushing him.
There is also always the possibility that Jorge Soler doesn’t stick around in Kansas City. He may become far too expensive for the small club to keep and they may see an opportunity to get a good return. Franco could be a serviceable designated hitter with his shown power.
There are possible negatives to a contract for Franco, but there are plenty of positive outcomes as well. It’s likely that Franco will be around for 2021, but after that, there is no telling where the Royals will move. Whatever the move, a couple of years of Franco could be a risk worth taking.
Maikel Franco helped the Royals in 2020. Having him around for a few more years might be worth taking a look at.