The KC Royals could find what they need, and maybe an extra starting pitcher, in a trio of Philly free agents.
Unlike its approach to recent offseasons, Kansas City has hit the free agent market early and effectively so far—the re-signing of 2020 closer Greg Holland Monday followed the impressive additions of starter Mike Minor, outfielder Michael A. Taylor and first baseman Carlos Santana. But the club still lacks an outfielder with power, and a backup catcher upgrade wouldn’t hurt.
Veteran Jay Bruce is primarily a right fielder, but can play left, center and first base. He has power: he hit 26 home runs in 2019, and has slammed 318 in 13 seasons, including at least 30 five times and at least 20 seven more. The Royals could also use another lefthanded bat, which Bruce can also provide.
But he hit .198 in 32 games in 2020, just .216 in 2019, and hasn’t been above .260 since 2016. His OBP has also declined considerably (.261 in 2019 and .252 last season), and he’s an average defender at best. Power alone won’t make it in the KC outfield and Bruce’s age—he’ll be 34 in April–weighs against him joining the Royals’ younger, speedier outfield.
Two-time All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy played only one game for the Red Sox in 2020 before they released him and he caught on with the Phillies. Although he didn’t see action in Philly, his career .274/.335/.416 slash suggests he could give the Royals an offensive boost on Salvador Perez’s days off. But a .232 average in 2019 and .241 last season signal some decline at the plate as he enters his 12th, and age-35, season in 2021. The Royals aren’t in such urgent need of an offensive upgrade to Cam Gallagher or Meibrys Viloria that they have to sign Lucroy.
What about another starter? KC seems set with Minor, Danny Duffy, Brad Keller, Brady Singer and Kris Bubic, but could add another potential rotation piece in case Duffy becomes a trade deadline piece, or Singer or Bubic show their 2020 short season performances didn’t reflect their true readiness for big league hitters. Jake Arrieta is among Philadelphia’s free agents, but hasn’t been the pitcher the Phils lured away from the Cubs with a three-year $75 million free agent deal after the 2017 campaign. He was 68-31 for Chicago but 22-23 for Philly.
The Royals would do well to shy away from Arrieta and the price he’d want to come to Kansas City.