KC Royals: Do Ranger free agents have much to offer?

(Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images) /

Former KC Royals pitcher Chris Young, who helped Kansas City to the 2015 American League pennant and then won the opening game of the World Series, left a Senior Vice Presidency of Major League Baseball last winter to become General Manager of the Texas Rangers. Never before a member of any team’s front office, Young took over a bad ball club that finished last in the AL West two of the previous three seasons.

Young watched his new club lose 102 games and capture the cellar once again last year. Determined to turn things around quickly, Young was hard at work overhauling the club until the MLB lockout began earlier this month and stopped his surprisingly aggressive offseason—in the space of just two days, Young landed prominent free agents Marcus Semien, Corey Seager, Jon Gray and Kole Calhoun (and also added former Royal Meibrys Viloria).

What about his own free agents? The Christmas Eve announcement that Hyeon-jong Yang is returning to the KBO’s Kia Tigers after only a year with Texas leaves the Rangers with only three of their familiar free agents to consider. But don’t bet much on Young bringing back Ronald Guzmán, Brock Holt or Mike Foltynewicz, especially considering he may well pursue Clayton Kershaw and Seiya Suzuki.

Should Guzmán, Holt or Foltynewicz interest the Royals?

The KC Royals don’t have much need for Ronald Guzmán or Brock Holt in 2022.

There are reasons Ronald Guzmán might interest Kansas City. He’s young (27), bats lefthanded, has a bit of power (16 homers in 2018 and 10 in 2019) and, unless the new CBA fundamentally alters the current system, he’s ineligible for free agency until after the 2024 season.

Don’t, however, look for the Royals to call him. He doesn’t hit particularly well—his low .227 career average is that high only because he hit .244 in the short 2020 campaign, and he missed almost all of 2021 after early season knee surgery.

Guzmán is also a first baseman, something the club just doesn’t need with Carlos Santana, Nick Pratto and Vinnie Pasquantino in the fold.

Brock Holt could also pique the Royals’ curiosity. A career .262 lefty hitter who’s played for five big league teams and had his best years with Boston (.270 in seven years), Holt is a consummate utility player—catcher is the only position he’s never played in 10 major league campaigns. He also owns a .297 postseason average (.381 OBP, also) and in 2018 became the first player to hit for the cycle in the postseason.

The Royals, though, already have versatility in Whit Merrifield, and Adalberto Mondesi will likely try to fill a super-utility role next season. That leaves little, if any, room for Holt.

A Texas righthander won’t be enough to help the KC Royals next season.

If the Royals are, as they always seem to be, searching for a veteran pitcher who can step into the rotation and help mentor their collection of talented but inexperienced pitchers, Mike Foltynewicz might tempt them. He’s pitched in the majors for eight seasons, made the National League All-Star team in 2018 with Atlanta, and owns an eclectic five-pitch (four-seamer, sinker, curve, changeup and slider) arsenal.

He is not, however, a pitcher Kansas City can’t do without. The 13 games he won during his All-Star season constitute his career high, and the 10 he won the season before rank second. Together, those two campaigns’ wins represent exactly half his 46 career victories—he’s averaging less than four in his other six seasons and is 46-54 overall.

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Texas has signed some excellent free agents, but the Rangers don’t have much to offer the Royals.