The KC Royals will need to make some room on the active roster, which may mean the end of a few player’s time in Kansas City.
In the 2011 draft, the KC Royals took a chance on a kid from just down the road in Garnder, Kansas. Bubba Starling, drafted out of Gardner-Edgerton High School was set to be a home-grown hero. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out that way.
Jump to 2020, and other than a few decent seasons at the plate during his more recent minor league years, the rest of his career, including his short time in the majors, has been underwhelming.
In 2019, Starling finally got his chance, seeing 56 games and 197 plate appearances with the major league club. He slashed .215/.255/.317 across that time. 2020 was a similar story, seeing 35 games and 64 plate appearances, he slashed .169.219.237.
While the sample sizes are small, the time for Bubba to get a large sample size is passing him by, if it hasn’t already left without him.
Starling is currently sitting with no minor league options, and was while he was on the 2020 roster along with Brett Phillips as back up outfielders, the story may not have been the same if the rosters hadn’t been expanded.
While Starling may seem like the front runner for an open outfield spot due to his time with the club, it would be hard for the Royals to justify securing him the job, especially with the needed offensive uptick they must find.
Starling is known for his defensive abilities. While Alex Gordon may have gotten by some years putting his defense at the front, Starling has nowhere near the resume that Gordon put together.
He made his way through the minors, though injury has also plagued the outfielder, keeping him from playing and causing more concern for his future in the game.
A turn around looked to be on the table in 2018. Starling played in only a few games, but slashed .296/.415/.611 at AAA, and again repeated his success in his time at AAA in 2019 slashing .310/.358/.448 over 285 plate appearances there.
To date, though, he has not been able to translate this success to the major league level.
So now, the Royals find themselves in a tough spot. It’s likely they want to give Starling his shot. There are a couple of outfield spots up for grabs, and his time with the club surely factors into their desire to see him succeed. Starling, though, doesn’t have many chances.
With multiple major league ready outfielders sitting on the roster, along with a few prospects knocking at the door, Starling may find himself on the bench or out of a job in Kansas City altogether.
The Royals may take a chance in releasing him as well. While he could find a spot elsewhere, there is always the chance he will find himself back in the Royals minor league system, getting a chance to work without the pressure of knowing each day could be his last in the dugout.
While there is a possibility that fans will see Starling with the Royals in 2021 getting another shot, he may not be given a lot of time. The Royals are ready to win. If Starling can’t produce with his bat, it will be time to find someone that can.
Bubba Starling may be running out of time in Kansas City. He needs to step up his offense, or someone else will move into his spot.