As the KC Royals think about how to improve their roster this winter, trades, minor league promotions, and major league free agents will be their most obvious sources.
There is, however, another market to ponder, and on it are several former Royals who the club might consider for 2022. Several players who’ve been on KC’s major league roster before are now minor league free agents and can sign with any organization.
The complete list of minor leaguers now on the market is long, and includes 16 who played in the KC organization this season—pitchers Jake Newberry, Chance Adams, Jake Kalish, Carlos Sanabria, Brandon Barker, Garrett Davila and Nolan Watson; catchers Meibrys Viloria, Nick Dini and Nathan Esposito; infielder Jeison Guzman; and outfielders Erick Mejia, Blake Perkins, Anderson Miller, Rudy Martin, and even the retired Bubba Starling.
Seldom, however, do big league teams find immediate help among such free agents. But some former Royals enjoyed success in Kansas City, and might be worth new General Manager J.J. Picollo’s perusal. Let’s take a look at the most likely of the group to attract his attention.
The KC Royals’ need for some of the bigger names isn’t great right now.
Terrance Gore, Maikel Franco, Cheslor Cuthbert and Christian Colon are perhaps the biggest and most familiar names to Kansas City fans. Whether they have a place with their former team, though, is doubtful.
Gore just won a World Series ring with the Braves, but his limited utility means the Royals probably won’t, and shouldn’t, pursue him. He’s one-dimensional, a speedy runner whose value is greatest to postseason participants needing a base-stealing threat.
Franco excelled as the Royals’ regular third baseman in 2020. He played every one of the team’s 60 games, had eight homers and drove in 38 runs, and hit .278. Apparently for financial reasons (impending arbitration), however, Kansas City non-tendered him; he signed with Baltimore but managed only a .210 average in 104 games. With Bobby Witt Jr. sure to be a Royal next season, and Adalberto Mondesi spending September working at third base, there isn’t a place for Franco in Kauffman Stadium.
The same goes for Cheslor Cuthbert and Christian Colon, two utility-type infielders who played for the 2015 World Series champion Royals. The current club is loaded with talented infielders, making it extremely unlikely Picollo will call Cuthbert and Colon this winter.