KC Royals: Making the case, Tampa Bay Rays free agents

Aaron Loup (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Aaron Loup (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

The KC Royals could still be on the hunt for a few more free agents, and while the Rays have a couple to offer, it might be best to look elsewhere.

Welcome back to Kings of Kauffman’s continuing series analyzing the major league free agent market and projecting who might, or might not, fit the KC Royals needs. Today we take a look at the Tampa Bay Rays’ free agents.

The KC Royals have been surprisingly active on the free-agent market this offseason. Typically, Royals fans don’t get much to talk about until closer to spring training, and the singings are usually small, minor league contracts, or reclamation projects looking for a bounce-back season.

It’s nice to see the change in pace so far, and luckily for fans, Kansas City might not be done making moves. There is some thought that they could have some more payroll space if they want to go for any other free agents. GM Dayton Moore has suggested this space may be spent on a left-handed hitting outfielder.

The Tampa Bay Rays don’t have any outfielders up for grabs, but still, it might not hurt to take a look and see what they do have to offer.

Three of their free agents have already found new contracts, Andrew Kittredge returning to the Rays, Hunter Renfroe going to Boston, and Charlie Morton making his way to Atlanta. Morton was likely the most interesting of Rays’ free agents, and as he is no longer available, their offering is much slimmer.

First up, they have a pair of catchers, Mike Zunino and Kevan Smith. Zunino is an obvious pass. While he could be ok as a defensive backup, his offense leaves a lot to be desired. In 2020 he slashed .147/.238/.360, and past years weren’t much better.

Kevan Smith is the more interesting of the two catchers, but like Zunino, he is another one for the Royals to pass on. Smith is much better at the plate, slashing .258/.378/.452 during the 2020 season, and seeing similar numbers in past seasons. Still, the Royals aren’t in need of a catcher.

With Salvador Perez, Cam Gallagher, along with a few others in line, the Royals are set for now.

After the catchers, the Ray’s only have three other free agents available, all of them being relievers. The Royals could still be looking to bring in some relievers to supplement the bullpen, but they might not like what they see from the Rays.

First up is Oliver Drake. Drake pitched 11.0 innings in 2020 with an ERA of 5.73 and FIP of 5.92. This came after a decent 2019 season of 56.0 innings and an ERA of 3.21. Drake is better off passed as his limited success in past major league seasons could present some risk the Royals don’t want to take.

Following Drake is Chaz Roe. Roe is one of the better free agents available from the Rays. He saw decent success in both 2018 and 2019, pitching over 50.1 and 51.0 innings in each respectively. Though he only saw 9.1 innings in 2020, he struck out 9 and held an ERA of 2.89.

He saw limited time, though due to being on the injured list for elbow soreness. The Royals could possibly get him on a cheap minor league deal to see if he is able to make the major league roster, but much more and it might be too much of a risk.

The best of the Rays free agents might be Aaron Loup. Loup pitched 25.0 innings in 2020 and held his ERA at 2.52 with an FIP of 3.83. He showed good control, only giving up 4 walks while striking out 22. While he has seen up and downs in past seasons as far as ERA goes, he has managed to keep an FIP below 4.00 in all but 1 major league season and has shown consistency in avoiding walks.

Loup might not be on the Royal’s radar for the bullpen, but if they need to find another option, taking a chance on Loup could pay off and he could come at a decently low price.

Next. KC Royals: Making the case, Phillies free agents. dark

The Rays don’t have much to offer, but there are a couple of relievers that could be interesting to look at. The Royals may still have a few more moves to make, and there are plenty of free agents left for them to explore.