Much of the baseball world is abuzz about the second baseman having his option declined, but there is a small chance he would fit in on the KC Royals.
Many clubs, including the KC Royals, will need to see if there is a fit on their roster for Kolten Wong. Heading into his age-30 season there still is potential for a few more years of productive baseball.
The St. Louis Cardinals opted to pay Wong a $1 million buyout as opposed to spending $12.5 million for him to stay with the franchise another year. It was mentioned they could agree to bring him back but the Cardinals obviously want that at a reduced rate.
"John Mozeliak, the president of baseball operations for the Cardinals, said he spoke to Wong on Wednesday.“I told him that with some of the uncertainties, we’re just not in a position to do that,” Mozeliak said of the option. “We both agreed to keep the door open, and so as we progress in this, it’s something that we’re not ruling out for a future return.” – espn.com"
After arguably his best season as a pro in 2019, this shortened summer saw a regression in many offensive statistics. He did repeat his defensive superiority, following up the Gold Glove he won in ’19 by being nominated for another one this summer.
Would Kansas City be able to make room on its roster, find a place for him to play, and be willing to dish out several million a year to do that? With St. Louis declining to pay him, it is tough to see him commanding any more than $10 million in the open market. A $6-8 million one-year deal would make sense and then if he rebounds he can look to score a more lucrative multi-year contract.
The most obvious issue is that the Royals are committed to Nicky Lopez at second base, at least one more year. Like Wong, Lopez is up for a Gold Glove and is the best defensive second baseman in the American League.
A possible solution is to put Wong into the depleted Kansas City outfield. With Alex Gordon retired, Bubba Starling not producing, and a host of unknowns vying for playing time, Wong could be a steady hand.
Wong did appear in 16 games in the outfield during the 2016 campaign with no errors, but that is his only experience outside of second base in the pros. Taking what could be potentially a back-to-back Gold Glove winner and moving him to another position seems silly.
There have been some bumpy roads in Wong’s relationship with the Cardinals. While Mike Matheny was the manager of the Redbirds, the playing time for the player was an issue, so those two may have an icy relationship. Heading into a year where the Royals are looking to rebound with younger players, arguments over playing time would distract from the team goals.
The 21 point drop in OPS+, 4.1 drop in WAR, and no room for him at his best position means that even if tempted, the KC Royals need to pass on Wong and focus on other areas to improve.