KC Royals: Making the case, Oakland A’s free agents

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /
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KC Royals
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /

Three former KC Royals are among the A’s free agents, but there really isn’t an urgent need for any of them in Kansas City.

On July 27, 2014, Cleveland punished the Kansas City 10-3. The loss left the KC Royals two games above .500 and in second place in the American League Central, five games behind the Tigers. The next day, the Royals shipped Danny Valencia to Toronto for Erik Kratz and reliever Liam Hendriks but, as far as the club and Hendriks go, the rest was not history.

The Royals went on to win the pennant and play in the World Series, but Hendriks wasn’t a big reason why. He went 0-2 with a 4.66 ERA in six games and didn’t pitch in the postseason. Apparently unimpressed, KC traded him back to the Blue Jays following the season.

Hendriks was a perfect 5-0 with a 2.92 ERA in 58 games for the Jays, but they dealt him to Oakland where, after three somewhat serviceable seasons, he emerged as the A’s closer in 2019 and saved 25 games and struck out 124 in 85 innings. He was even better in this year’s shortened campaign, posting a spiffy 1.78 ERA, saving 14 games and matching his 13.1 SO9 of the season before.

So it is that, entering his age-32 season, Hendriks is one of the game’s better closers, someone who should command decent money if this winter’s free agent market doesn’t suffer at the hands of the financial hit the industry just took. That the Royals might be able to afford Hendricks, though, doesn’t mean they should give him a call.

They shouldn’t. They don’t need a closer, especially one who may justifiably demand serious cash. They can probably re-land Greg Holland for less than it will take to snare Hendriks; if their reported interest in Holland doesn’t pan out, the Royals have competent internal candidates such as Josh Staumont, or possibly even Danny Duffy if he ends up in the bullpen. (Some will suggest Trevor Rosenthal, but that’s probably not happening). So the club should pass on Hendriks.

The same goes for Joakim Soria, but the case against him has more to do with diminishing value than it does finances. He saved 162 games for the club in parts of seven seasons, but is no longer a closer and, because he’ll be 37 in May, is well on the backside of a good career. The Royals could probably get him on the cheap, but even a small amount of money can be better spent on someone else.

Mike Minor is the third former Royal the franchise shouldn’t pursue. Minor’s claims to fame are the two respectable seasons he had with Texas (he won 12 games in 2018, the year after he went 6-6 in his only Kansas City campaign, and 14 in 2019), but the Rangers let Oakland have him when he was 0-5 in 2020 and he went 1-1 with the A’s. Minor turns 33 next month and there really isn’t a place for him in the Royal rotation or bullpen.