Is designated hitter the ideal job for this five-tool KC Royals infielder?
Adalberto Mondesi can do it all. He can hit, hit for power, run, throw, and field. He stole 43 bases in 2018, 32 in 2018, and 24 in the short 2020 campaign. He hit 14 homers in 2018 and although he doesn’t yet own a Gold Glove, he someday will.
But the victim of more than his share of injuries has trouble staying on the field. Oblique injuries to both sides and a hamstring issue robbed him of all but 35 games last season. An ailing shoulder triggered so much concern that the club banned him late in the 2019 season from diving on the basepaths or on defense.
What, then, are the Royals to do with Mondesi, an excellent but oft-injured infielder, when shortstop Nicky Lopez blossomed at the plate last season and should have won a Gold Glove, Whit Merrifield had another solid season and received a Gold Glove nomination, and Bobby Witt Jr. will, probably early in the season if not on Opening Day, make his major league debut?
Perhaps they should market him as a potential National League DH.
It makes sense. He’s a formidable threat when he’s on and plays regularly, and serving primary DH duty is less risky than playing every day in the field. And despite his injury history, expect other clubs to be willing to pay handsomely for him.
Don’t look for it to happen, though, and it probably shouldn’t, at least not yet. That the Royals tried him at third base in 20 of his 35 games last year suggests they want to find a role for him, and that role could be moving around the infield, spending time in right field, and taking his turns at DH. The club won’t move Mondesi until it’s convinced it’s the right thing to do.
The National League will soon need designated hitters. The Royals have at least four candidates.