Should the KC Royals look outside for ideal lefty bat?

(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /
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KC Royals, Franchy Cordero
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Franchy Cordero is the leading in-house lefty candidate for a spot in the middle of the KC Royals’ order.

Except perhaps in San Diego, Franchy Cordero was far from a baseball household name when he arrived in Kansas City last summer as part of the Royals’ return in the July trade that sent struggling reliever Tim Hill to the Padres. A professional since signing an international free agent deal with San Diego in late 2011, he’d played in 79 major league games spread over parts of three seasons before the Hill deal.

And, other than the seven home runs he hit in 40 Padres games in 2018, Cordero’s Padre campaigns didn’t provide much to talk about. He left the West Coast with a .240/.306/.431 slash, and only three more homers than his 2018 output. He’d opened eyes with combined minor league totals of 45 doubles, 34 triples and 28 homers in 2016-17, hitting .290 across High A, Double A and Triple A in ’16 and .326 at Triple A in ’17, but three injuries sidelined him much of the 2018 campaign and led to season-ending surgery.

That the Padres needed Hill more than they believed they needed Cordero (and trade mate Ronald Bolanos) led to last summer’s deal. Cordero disappointed upon arrival, hitting .154 with an equally distressing .185 OBP, then found his season suddenly derailed by a broken hamate bone in early August.

Fortunately, he healed and returned for the campaign’s final week. He slammed two homers and drove in five runs in his first game back and hit .333 over the club’s last five games.

Is Cordero the answer? Perhaps, but he’ll have to rediscover the power he displayed in the minors and prove he can drive balls into Kauffman Stadium’s gaps. And he KC Royals will have to decide if they want to give him a prolonged chance or look elsewhere.