KC Royals: Making the case, Mariners free agents

(Photo by Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports)
(Photo by Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports) /
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KC Royals
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

The son of a former KC Royals’ star might boost Kansas City’s fortunes in 2021.

If sentimentality drove the KC Royals’ free agent decisions, and a former Royal isn’t readily available, the son of one might be the next best thing. And that’s what Kansas City could have with Dee Strange-Gordon, a speedy Seattle free agent who can play in the outfield or infield.

Strange-Gordon is the son of ex-KC pitcher Tom Gordon, who started his 21-year major league career in 1988 as a Royal and went 79-71 with five double-digit win campaigns in over eight Kansas City seasons.

Son Dee is a well-established big league player in his own right. He’s twice an All-Star and owns a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger. A surplus of speed makes up for a lack of power: he’s led the majors in stolen bases three times and averages 33.3 per season. His .286 career average is certainly respectable; although he slumped to .200 in 2020’s short season, there’s little reason to believe that’s strong evidence of impending decline.

Most fans immediately think of Strange-Gordon as a shortstop or second baseman, but he’s beginning to spend time in the outfield. He played center field 53 times in 2018 and left 13 times in 2020. That emerging versatility, together with the fact he hits left-handed, could give the 10-year veteran a leg up on other free agents the KC Royals may consider—he might push Nicky Lopez, provide a path to some days off for Adalberto Mondesi, step in for either in cases of injury, and take a few turns in the outfield.

But any thoughts the Royals have about Strange-Gordon can’t be long-term. He’ll turn 33 in April and the plethora of Kansas City’s surging young infielders and outfielders won’t permit a long stay. But his speed, versatility and experience could serve the club well for a season or two.

Carl Edwards Jr. isn’t a legacy, but the Royals could do much worse if they’re considering adding another right-hander to their resurgent bullpen. Edwards is still young enough—he doesn’t turn 30 until September—and he’s put together six decent big league seasons. He pitched in the 2016 World Series for the Cubs and went 9-8 with a 3.30 ERA in four Chicago seasons.

Edwards has a nifty 1.096 career WHIP and averages over 12 strikeouts every nine innings. He had a 1.93 ERA in five 2020 Mariner games.

Kansas City already has plenty of bullpen righties but, if they move any of them, Edwards could be a good addition.