Extension of the designated hitter to the National League could help the KC Royals.
Some KC Royals Wednesday musings while wondering what recommendations late Kansas City hitting coach Charley Lau would have for Nicky Lopez:
Royals should be hoping the National League gets the DH
Changes to accommodate the pandemic-shortened 2020 season included utilizing the designated hitter in the National League. Making the DH a universal feature of the game now appears inevitable, especially because its use last season wasn’t seriously panned and the Major League Baseball Players Association wants it.
Currently holding up the issue are sluggish labor negotiations between the MLBPA (the union) and Major League Baseball (the clubs). Although the union understandably seeks extending the DH to the NL because it creates more jobs, management at least wants some version of extended playoffs in return. That’s a concept the MLBPA just rejected.
Kansas City is one American League club that could benefit if the DH becomes a permanent Senior Circuit fixture and, as a result, an American League DH switches leagues.
Nelson Cruz has punished the Royals for two straight AL Central Division seasons. The Twins’ DH hit nine homers, drove in 28 runs, slashed .371/.467/.903 and posted a 1.370 OPS+ in 16 games against KC in 2019, then had six homers, seven RBIs, a .429/.515/1.107 line and 1.622 OPS+ last year. Cruz, who’s spent all but one of his 16 major league seasons in the AL, has always fared well against KC, against whom he’s hit 30 homers with 79 RBIs and a .282/.361/.598 slash in 95 games.
Cruz’s continuing availability on the free agent market could very well stem from the uncertainty surrounding the DH—if it’s adopted for the NL, even if only for 2021, his number of potential suitors doubles. That’s an important market development for any player, especially a one-dimensional one who’ll be 41 in July. And it would mean he just might switch leagues and get out of the Royals’ hair.
So many ex-KC Royals remain unsigned
No less than 14 free agents who once called Kauffman Stadium home were still looking for work as of late Tuesday night.
Ten are pitchers: Trevor Rosenthal, Jake Odorizzi, Joakim Soria, Mike Montgomery, Brad Boxberger, Homer Bailey, Trevor Cahill, Kelvin Herrera, Matt Harvey and Ian Kennedy. Three more are outfielders—Jarrod Dyson, Jon Jay and Billy Hamilton—while third baseman Maikel Franco is the only infielder.
It seems unlikely the Royals will sign any of them, although closer Rosenthal, starter Odorizzi and reliever Soria, who’s coming off a good season with the A’s, could help immediately.
But as improbable as signing even one of these free agents might be, General Manager Dayton Moore has pulled a surprise or two this winter, including the recent acquisition of former Royal Wade Davis.
Taking stock of KC Royals uniforms
Winter, when there are no games to watch, provides perhaps the best opportunity to discuss and debate all things baseball. Take, for example, this item that popped up on our Twitter feed the other day from @royals, the KC Royals’ official Twitter account:
Seeing this immediately brought to my mind the Kings of Kauffman story I wrote a while back about the best and worst Royals’ jerseys of all time. Complete with jersey pics, you can read it here.
In case you missed it
Catching up on your Kings of Kauffman reading? Here are links to a few of our nuggets from the last week.
Shawn Bauman, our resident go-to guy when it comes to minor league and prospect news, provided his latest update, including information about the club’s recent international signings and wrote about Hank Aaron’s connections to Kansas City.
Follow us on social media
If you’re not following us on Twitter or Facebook, you should be, and we’re easy to find. Check us out at @KingsofKauffman (Twitter) and www.facebook.com/KingsOfKauffman (for Facebook, obviously).
That’s it for now. We’ll be back next Wednesday with another KC Royals midweek news roundup. Until then, stay safe and healthy.