A trio of A’s would make nice additions to the KC Royals, but there really isn’t room right now.
Marcus Semien, Tommy La Stella and Jake Lamb never played for the KC Royals. Any one of them, though, could help the club; the trouble with them all is there aren’t any open spots.
Semien, of course, is the A’s regular shortstop who can also play third base, an eight-year big league veteran who hits and defends well enough to deserve an everyday major league job. He boasted five straight double-digit home run seasons going into 2020 (including 33 in 2019 and 27 in 2016) and his seven homers this season extrapolates to almost 19 for a 162-game slate. He has a career .254 average but hit a career-high .285 in 2019.
The A’s apparently have interest in bringing Semien back but did not give him a qualifying offer by Sunday’s QO deadline. That doesn’t prevent Oakland from re-signing him; at the same time, it means any other team signing him doesn’t forfeit a draft choice, a penalty that often discourages signing other clubs’ free agents. With that disincentive now gone, should the KC Royals take a run at Semien?
No. They just don’t have a place to play him. Shortstop Adalberto Mondesi certainly isn’t going anywhere and third baseman Maikel Franco will likely be tendered a deal to return. And then there’s the ever-present Bobby Witt Jr., a No.1 prospect who seems certain to find his way to Kauffman Stadium sometime in 2021. Witt’s arrival will shake up the infield (unless the Royals elect to shake up the outfield instead). The club shouldn’t try to create a spot for Semien.
La Stella’s name comes up in almost every Hot Stove discussion. He has an adequate bat and is a second baseman who, like Semien, can also play third. (He’s also played first base). His glove leaves a little to be desired, which won’t be a point in his favor with the infield defense-conscious Royals. And he, again like Semien, wouldn’t have a place to play—Nicky Lopez will get at least another season to prove himself at second, and the Franco-Witt factor also applies to La Stella. KC needs to pass on him.
Jake Lamb is the final Athletic who might be a good add for the Royals. He’s displayed power in the past (30 homers with Arizona in 2017 and 29 for the Diamondbacks the season before), but he hasn’t regained much of any form since injuring his shoulder in 2018 and suffering other injuries after that. He can play either of the infield corner positions; the rub, of course, is Franco at third, Witt lurking in the background, and Hunter Dozier, who appears to have staked a firm claim to Kansas City’s first base job. Lamb is one free agent the club shouldn’t call.