The KC Royals could use a veteran outfielder and two Colorado free agents are available.
Yes, fans, there still is a Matt Kemp. And he’s ready to play. But it shouldn’t be for the KC Royals.
Kemp helped fill Colorado’s need for a DH this season, but the future of that position in the National League is as uncertain as Kemp’s in baseball may be. He’ll be entering his 16th big league season and will turn 37 in September, a combination of career length and age that may complicate his ability to find work.
It’s not that he can’t still play—his six homers and 21 RBIs in 43 games this season extrapolates to 162-game totals of a little over 16 blasts and almost 57 runs driven in—but the 33 games he spent DH’ing suggest his days in the field may be numbered. And if the NL doesn’t move to the DH permanently next season, Kemp’s options will narrow.
Having Jorge Soler means the Royals aren’t looking for a DH but, with Alex Gordon retired, they might want a veteran to lead and mentor their stable of fast, talented, but young outfielders. Kemp has credibility-creating career numbers (287 homers, over a thousand RBIs,1,808 hits, and a .284/.337/.484 slash) to go with three All-Star selections (the last in 2018) and two Silver Sluggers. But he may be too pricey and not suited for many games in the field. Kansas City should look elsewhere.
Is Kevin Pillar a possibility? Perhaps. He’s an excellent outfielder and, although he’ll turn 32 before spring training, still has speed and can steal a base now and then. He has some power—he’s hit 21 home runs twice and reached double digits in homers five times in eight big league seasons. And Pillar can handle the bat: he hit .308 in 24 games this season for the Rockies and .274 in 30 for the Red Sox, and owns a .262 career average.
That the Rockies thought enough of Pillar to try and bolster their defense by picking him up at the 2020 trade deadline indicates additional value, especially with the glove. Defense is a top Kansas City priority; Pillar’s main position is center field, but he can also play the corners well. He could help the young outfielders for a year or two, add an experienced bat off the bench, and wouldn’t break the bank.
Pillar, then, might be worth a conversation. The Royals should at least give him a call.