The KC Royals are earning good midwinter grades

(Photo by Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)
(Photo by Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports) /
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KC Royals
(Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) /

The KC Royals’ most unexpected move may have landed them their next center fielder.

That Kansas City would find another outfielder this winter was a given. Who they sought and signed, however, certainly wasn’t.

Michael A. Taylor joined the club on the last day of November with Dayton Moore strongly suggesting he’d get “first crack” at the center field job. Because little talk of Taylor preceded the deal, his acquisition was surprising; even more so, perhaps, was the not-so-subtle hint that he’ll be the starting center fielder.

Although he brings to the Kansas City table key attributes the franchise loves—speed and good defense—he’s not entirely the quintessential center fielder.

For one thing, Taylor has inconsistent power. He hit 19 homers in 2017 and 14 two years before that, but didn’t hit more than seven in any of his other five big league campaigns with Washington. He also doesn’t hit much. He has a suspect .237/.291/.424 slash; it’s the middle element—the .291 OBP—that is remarkably inconsistent with the premium the Royals place on getting on base.

Taylor, however, is relatively productive when he does get on base. He stole 24 bases for the Nationals in 2018 and reached double digits in steals three other times. His base path acumen will be welcome on a Mike Matheny-managed club and, should he improve at the plate (the Royals obviously think he can, or they wouldn’t have signed him), he’ll be a welcome offensive addition to the KC Royals.

The uncertainty surrounding Taylor’s bat precludes too high a grade for this deal. But all things considered, it’s still a “B.”