The KC Royals may need to re-sign an old outfield friend to fill a need in their lineup.
After the flurry of moves at the beginning of the offseason and the kind of money spent on free agents not seen in a few years, the KC Royals have gone silent. The team still has a hole in the lineup and outfield openings that need to be addressed.
While a couple of big names like Marcell Ozuna and Jackie Bradley Jr. are still unsigned, it doesn’t appear the Royals are in the market for them. The optimistic view would be they have plenty of talent in the pipeline ready to take on an outfield role, but realistically none of it is yet proven.
One low-risk gamble would be to bring back outfielder Jon Jay, who spent nearly half a season in a Kansas City uniform back in 2018. He played extremely well and, with the team out of contention, was dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Jay struggled in his return to the National League and has never regained his footing. He’ll soon turn 36 and it could be that the best of his playing days are behind him.
Jay’s career numbers do tell the story of a guy with a good bat and eye even though his power is limited. A career .283/.348/.373 slash was bettered in his 59 games with the Royals as he hit .307 and reached base at a .363 clip.
He could also fill the void at any outfield spot and would make a nice leadoff hitter if he could come close to his career stats. Jay also played well for Kansas City manager Mike Matheny when both were with St. Louis—perhaps a connection to his former manager would revive his career.
Jay will command a minimum salary and the risk would be very low for the KC Royals. With the success Jay experienced his first time around with the Royals, he should be very open to returning.
The fact the Royals have not locked up a good on-base hitter is an indication one wasn’t high on their radar. It should have been, though—until the club gets someone on base consistently to set the table for its big hitters, runs will be hard to come by.