KC Royals: Grading the team’s offseason additions

(Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports) /
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KC Royals, Andrew Benintendi
(Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports) /

Two outfielders get the best grades of the KC Royals’ offseason additions.

Kansas City’s outfield was a mess when baseball’s winter began. Left fielder Alex Gordon had retired, no one had earned the center field job, and Whit Merrifield moving to right was mere conjecture.

What a difference a year makes.

Michael A. Taylor signed in late November to bring an excellent glove, but a much weaker bat, to Kansas City for a year. His lack of plate prowess suggested he’d be a stop-gap in center, a placeholder until one of the club’s many hot outfield prospects reached big league readiness.

Taylor, though, turned heads with his defense—he made only three errors, led American League center fielders in DWAR (2.3) and Defensive Runs Saved (19), and just might win a Gold Glove.

His hitting still leaves something to be desired for a regular center fielder, but he managed 12 home runs and his .244 average was seven points better than his .237 career mark before the season started.

And at the end of the year, the Royals decided they like Taylor and the stability he brought to center so much that they’re bringing him back. The club signed him to a new two-year deal last week.

Taylor deserves a B+.

But do any of the Royals’ primary offseason acquisitions deserve an A?

Yes. Step to the head of the class, Andrew Benintendi.

Time will tell whether Benintendi’s defense will ever equal Alex Gordon’s, but he proved to be more than an adequate replacement for Gordon at the plate. Although he started slowly, hitting just .225 in April, missed time with a rib fracture and had a couple of rough slumps, he finished with 17 homers (second best of his career), 73 RBIs (third best), and a .276 average (also third best).

Benintendi’s best stretch was September and the three October games that concluded the season—he slashed .342/.398/.570 and drove in 29 runs in 31 games.

Benintendi was in 2021 everything the KC Royals wanted him to be when they traded for him in February, and gets an A. He’s arbitration eligible and under team control through next season, but the club might want to consider an extension.

Next. Nicky Lopez's big season. dark

The KC Royals added some key players last winter. Some had excellent seasons; some didn’t.