Can the KC Royals really pull off this blockbuster signing?

(Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports) /

That the MLB lockout isn’t ending anytime soon became even more apparent Thursday when the owners decided not to counter the players’ latest proposal and chose instead to call for mediation. And now that the union has rejected the request to mediate, don’t look for the clubs, including the KC Royals, to open spring camps on time.

Why? The two sides were, by all accounts, so far apart before the owners introduced the newest wrinkle to the already frustrating and unproductive collective bargaining process that a timely start to spring training was already imperiled. The players’ decision to turn down the invitation to mediate means any immediate resumption of talks is highly improbable.

Fans, then, are left to bemoan the lockout, the process, and the parties’ inability to forge a deal.

However, baseball’s current standstill hasn’t snuffed out Hot Stove fires. They may not be burning with their usual intensity, but even the freeze on major league-level player transactions hasn’t stopped speculation, rumors and predictions, including the improbable.

Take a close look, for example, at free agent predictions a member of a Talkin’ Baseball panel made recently:

Kris Bryant to the Royals? Let’s talk about that.

Is a Kris Bryant signing a realistic possibility for the frugal KC Royals?

Landing Kris Bryant would be a blockbuster deal for Kansas City. Although he’s primarily a third baseman, a position bound to be filled in 2022 by top prospect Bobby Witt Jr., or possibly Adalberto Mondesi, Bryant is also an experienced outfielder.

And it just so happens the Royals have an outfield vacancy. No one has a solid claim to right field, and the internal candidates for the spot, most notably Hunter Dozier and Kyle Isbel, have talent but can’t hold a candle to Bryant’s.

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Bryant, a four-time National League All-Star who was in the middle of his seventh season with the Cubs before they dealt him to San Francisco at the 2021 trade deadline, owns a nifty .278/.376/.504 career line. He’s averaging almost 24 homers a season, a clip undoubtedly skewed downward a bit by the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign when he hit only four.

He won the NL Rookie of the Year award in 2015 and the league’s Most Valuable Player award in 2016. And although he may never win a Gold Glove, he holds his own defensively.

The Royals can definitely use a player of Bryant’s caliber—his power, ability to get on base, and versatility would serve them well.

Kansas City, though, is an unlikely landing spot for the player everyone would like to sign. The club famous for its fiscal conservatism probably isn’t in the position, at least philosophically, to make the kind of mega-money deal required to sign Bryant, not with $85 million committed to Salvador Perez and $25 million to Dozier.

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But money may not be the only obstacle to seriously pursuing Bryant. He’s spent his entire career in the National League and may not want to leave familiar surroundings, especially the NL pitchers he’s been so successful against. And after getting a taste of winning—he made it to the playoffs five times with the Cubs, earned a World Series ring his second year in Chicago, and returned to the postseason in 2021 with the Giants—Bryant could very well be reluctant to sign on with the Royals, who probably won’t contend until at least 2023.

So, despite Talkin Baseball’s interesting panel predictions, don’t plan on Kris Bryant filling out a Kansas City uniform this season.

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At least one source thinks Kris Bryant will end up in Kansas City. He might play there, but it won’t be as a Royal.