The new GM must find a path to stability for the KC Royals’ outfield.
The February deal that snared Andrew Benintendi was Dayton Moore’s last big trade as Kansas City’s general manager. It’s proving to be one of his best.
Despite a slow start and missing almost a month with a fractured rib this season, Benintendi’s September slash is .348/.381/.562, he’s hitting .379 in his last 15 games, his 16 homers and 67 RBIs are KC’s third-best, and his glove is good. Assuming the Royals reject the trade overtures sure to come their way this winter and keep Benintendi, he’ll start in left next season.
Moore’s decision to sign free agent Michael A. Taylor also turned out well. Taylor’s bat isn’t quite what the Royals want it to be, but his mastery of center put him in the Gold Glove conversation weeks ago. Taylor, though, becomes a free agent when the World Series ends, casting some doubt on who’ll man center in 2022.
And right field remains in unfortunate flux. Seven Royals—Hunter Dozier, Jorge Soler, Jarrod Dyson, Ryan O’Hearn, Edward Olivares, Whit Merrifield, and Kyle Isbel—have played there this season. While Soler and Dyson aren’t with the club anymore and Merrifield is KC’s regular second baseman, no other Royal has staked sole claim to the job.
Stabilizing the outfield must be a priority for Picollo. Bringing Taylor back is certainly defensible, and Kyle Isbel is impressive in his second 2021 chance with the Royals. He’s slashing .346/.414/.692 since KC recalled him from Omaha Sept. 12, and .295/.348/.475 for the season. An everyday outfield of Benintendi, Taylor and Isbel, without a revolving door in right field, could be good.
Taylor and Isbel are good places for Picollo to start. Free agents are an option, of course, but Kansas City might spend more wisely in other areas.