The KC Royals may not choose to wait any longer on Ryan O’Hearn’s bat.
A little more than a year ago, when major league baseball returned in late July after a long pandemic-driven hiatus, Kansas City resumed its third season without Eric Hosmer and a suitable replacement for him. But there was hope—Ryan O’Hearn and Ryan McBroom were set to settle the position between them and both had promise.
Neither proved up to the task and Hunter Dozier took over first base in September.
Today, McBroom is ripping home runs at Omaha but appears destined never to have a regular job in KC, while O’Hearn continues to struggle with the Royals. Alternating between right field, first base and DH, he’s hitting .223 with an inadequate .256 OBP and nine homers in 76 games. Add those numbers to the matching .195’s he hit last year and the season before, and the future isn’t bright for the once-promising prospect who clubbed 12 homers and slashed .262/.353/.597 in 2018, his first big league season.
There just doesn’t appear to be a meaningful place for O’Hearn in Kansas City anymore. Carlos Santana will play first next season if the KC Royals don’t trade him; if doesn’t return, Hunter Dozier or Nick Pratto are the best 2022 first base bets. O’Hearn isn’t the best available right fielder, either, not with Whit Merrifield facing a possible shift there next year, Kyle Isbel needing a place to play sooner rather than later, and Edward Olivares looking for a spot if he returns.
And O’Hearn isn’t productive enough to be a regular DH.
So it is that O’Hearn may not (and shouldn’t) be part of Kansas City’s 2022 plans. He might be back at Omaha, but seeing him in Kansas City for any significant time will be a surprise.
The KC Royals will soon be making personnel decisions for next season. Cam Gallagher, Edward Olivares, and Ryan O’Hearn might find themselves playing somewhere else.