His long career with the organization may be coming to an end for a KC Royals outfielder.
There isn’t much left to say about Bubba Starling. Sadly, the superbly athletic, once-promising multi-sport star has reached the point where keeping him in Kansas City makes little, if any, sense.
Chief among obstacles to Starling remaining with the Royals is hitting. His 91-game, two-season .204/.246/.298 slash just isn’t good enough and suggests his struggle with big league pitching won’t end well. And his much ballyhooed potential outweighs his actual minor league performance: Starling has a .244 career average in parts of eight minor league seasons; although various injuries robbed him of playing time, .244 doesn’t project at all, and he hasn’t come close to repeating the .310 in 72 Triple A games that convinced the Royals to promote him to the majors in 2019.
Then there’s the sheer abundance of talent in the KC Royals’ outfield. Whit Merrifield has center or right locked down for the foreseeable future. Alex Gordon’s retirement left a gap in left which Nick Heath, Franchy Cordero, Khalil Lee, Kyle Isbel, and maybe Seuly Matias if he goes unpicked in this month’s Rule 5 draft, are expected to fight hard for.
And finally, there’s the newest Royal. Michael A. Taylor, a seven-year veteran of the Washington Nationals’ outfield, signed with Kansas City Monday—it’s hard to believe General Manager Dayton Moore secured his services without giving serious thought to playing him regularly, especially given the $1.75 million (with another $1 million in incentives) he reportedly signed for.
There is the fact, of course, that the Royals immunized Starling from the Rule 5 draft by keeping him on the 40-man roster. But that really doesn’t mean that much for a player in his position. Perhaps they feared receiving only the $100,000 draft price if another club plucked him away and wanted to try striking a more lucrative trade, or decided to give him another chance in spring training and, if that goes well, on the 2021 roster. The former is unlikely, the latter a probable exercise in futility.
The notion of letting Starling go isn’t new to this space. Nor should it be for the KC Royals, which makes him a viable nontender candidate.
The Royals have until tomorrow night to tender contracts. Will they tender everyone, nontender Scott Blewett, Meibrys Viloria and Bubba Starling, or choose other players to let go?