Can three former KC Royals give the current Kansas City club any help?
If your mind’s eye wanders back to the 2015 World Series, it’s likely to stop for a long moment on the indelible image of Wade Davis celebrating the called third strike he threw, and Drew Butera caught, to give the KC Royals their first Series title since 1985.
Davis was gone from the Royals a little over a year later, shipped to the Cubs for Jorge Soler, while Butera didn’t leave until the club traded him to the Colorado Rockies in the summer of 2018. He and Davis, who’d signed a free agent deal with the Rockies before the ’18 season, were teammates again.
Now, they’re free agents looking for a place to play. Nostalgia says Kansas City, but reality dictates otherwise.
Davis hasn’t been the Davis KC Royals fans love since 2018, when he celebrated his first Colorado season by leading the National League with 43 saves. Even then, though, there were hints of decline: his usually microscopic ERA ballooned to 4.13, his RA9 to 4.27. The next season was even worse—plagued by an oblique injury, Davis suffered the ugliest season of his career, going 1-6 with an 8.65 ERA. He missed most of 2020 with another injury, pitched just five times, and gave up 10 runs in 4.1 innings.
Butera’s post-Royals days have been better. One of the savviest backup catchers in the game, he’s been a steady presence behind the Colorado pate since 2018. He doesn’t hit well, but no one has ever paid Butera for his bat.
Don’t look for the Royals to bring either player back. Davis isn’t who he used to be, and the club can’t afford to risk a seat in the best bullpen it’s had for some time. And Kansas City is set for backup catchers with Cam Gallagher and Meibrys Viloria.
Chris Owings is the other former Royal counted among the Rockies’ free agents. His unsightly partial 2019 season with the team (.133 average and .193 OBP) was agonizing for everyone. Although he improved his hitting with the Rockies this season and can play almost everywhere, the Royals have the much better and more versatile Whit Merrifield and others who can play more than one position. Owings isn’t the answer to any Royal question.