Other than the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, when they finished two games over .500 and made it to, but lost, the National League Division Series, the Miami Marlins haven’t had a winning campaign since 2009. The Marlins suffer from insufficient talent, making it unlikely the KC Royals, who need pitching and a reliable right fielder, can find much help from Miami’s two major league free agents.
But is that indeed the case? Should Kansas City pursue either free agent when the MLB lockout ends?
Should the KC Royals have any interest in a versatile veteran infielder?
Joe Panik looked like a budding star in his first three big league seasons. Playing for the Giants, who picked him in the first round of the 2011 amateur draft, Panik hit .305 as a 2014 rookie and finished sixth in that season’s NL Rookie of the Year voting, made the All-Star team and hit .312 with a .378 OBP in 2015 and, despite plunging to .239 at the plate, won a Gold Glove at second base in 2016.
But Panik hasn’t hit above .250 in any full campaign since 2018; nor has he played over 100 games in a season since San Francisco released him in 2019. And splitting time between Toronto and Miami last year, he hit .208, including .172 in 53 games with the Marlins after they acquired him in a late June trade with Toronto.
Although Panik isn’t the hitter he was early in his career, he’s still an above-average defender who’s played every infield position in his eight-season big league career. But one of the last things the Royals need is another infielder, especially one whose best days appear to be well in the past. If he has a future, it isn’t with Kansas City.
The KC Royals need a steady right fielder, but Lewis Brinson isn’t it.
Kansas City has Gold Glovers Andrew Benintendi and Michael A. Taylor in left and right fields but, with no clear reliable claimant, right field remains unfilled as the 2022 season nears. The other Miami free agent is an outfielder with experience in right, but he’s not what the Royals should be looking for.
That’s because Lewis Brinson, who has a stellar nine-year minor league .288/.351/.497 slash line, simply can’t hit major league pitching, as his five-season .199 average proves. Even his best average, the .226 he achieved in both 2020 and 2021, is poor.
Unfortunately, Brinson may end his professional career best known as one of the players Milwaukee traded to Miami to acquire Christian Yelich in 2018.
Miami has only two free agents. Neither can help the Royals.