The Hot Stove is getting hotter for former KC Royals

(Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports) /

Major league-level player transactions, shut down for almost 100 days by MLB’s lockout, resumed soon after the clubs and players hammered out their anxiously-awaited agreement last Thursday. But while other teams didn’t waste much time making moves as the free agent and trade markets sprang back to life, the KC Royals unsurprisingly and characteristically remained quiet.

As of late Sunday night, not a peep had been heard from Kauffman Stadium or the team’s Arizona spring headquarters. No deals involving the Royals seem imminent.

Some former Royals, though, found market conditions to their liking, and others may soon be on the move.

A popular former KC Royals infielder will play for the Dodgers in 2022.

FanSided’s Robert Murray reports (Twitter link) that Hanser Alberto, the versatile infielder who became an instant clubhouse and fan favorite after signing a one-year deal with Kansas City last winter, has agreed to join the Dodgers. Alberto hit .270 in 103 games with the Royals last season; a good case existed to keep him in KC, but the club’s plethora of infield talent left little room for him. The Royals made him a free agent by releasing him in late October.

A pair of ex-KC Royals relievers are headed for Boston’s bullpen this season.

Two former Kansas City hurlers will apparently pitch for the Red Sox this season. Kings of Kauffman’s sister site Bosox Injection reports the Sox are adding left-handers Jake Diekman and Matt Strahm, both of whom pitched briefly in Kansas City.

Diekman worked out of the KC bullpen 48 times in 2019 and went 0-6 before the Royals shipped him to Oakland in a trade deadline deal. He was 3-3 with a 3.86 ERA and seven saves for the A’s last season.

Strahm made an impressive his big league debut with Kansas City in 2016, going 2-2 with a stingy 1.23 ERA in 21 relief appearances. He slipped to 2-5, 5.45 in 2017 and found himself bound for San Diego in that season’s infamous July trade that brought Brandon Maurer, Trevor Cahill and Ryan Buchter to Kauffman for the Royals’ ill-fated 2017 stretch run.

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Strahm didn’t pitch for the Padres until 2018 and went 9-17 for them in three seasons.

Ian Kennedy spent two years with the KC Royals and is becoming a Diamondback.

As Sunday night turned to early Monday morning in Kansas City, news of another ex-Royal free agent deal surfaced. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported (via Twitter) that starter-turned-reliever Ian Kennedy, who pitched for the Royals for five seasons beginning in 2016, is on his way to Arizona.

Kennedy came to Kansas City as a starter, but never quite lived up to the expectations underlying his $70 million contract. He disappointed out of the rotation until the Royals moved him to the bullpen, where he blossomed in 2019 with 30 saves and a 3-2 record in 63 appearances.

Unfortunately for Kennedy, however, the club signed Trevor Rosenthal and Greg Holland after the season; shuffled back and hampered by a calf issue, Kennedy pitched just 15 times in the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign and left for free agency.

His new deal constitutes a homecoming of sorts for Kennedy. He pitched three seasons and part of another for Arizona (2010-2013) and won 21 games for the Diamondbacks in 2011.

Former Royals relief pitcher Brad Boxberger is returning to Milwaukee.

Looking to bolster its relief corps, Kansas City signed Brad Boxberger just before spring training began in 2019. Unfortunately, Boxberger wasn’t what the Royals needed—they let him go in July after he went 1-3 and gave up 16 runs and walked 17 in 26.2 innings. He improved to 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA for Miami in 2020, then turned in a respectable 5-4, 3.34, seven-save season for the Brewers last season.

Now, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports Boxberger has decided to re-up with Milwaukee:

Could two former KC Royals sluggers soon be on the move from San Diego?

They hadn’t changed teams as of late Sunday night, but there are continuing signs the Padres are trying to move Eric Hosmer, Wil Myers, and their hefty contracts out of San Diego.

Hosmer starred at first base in Kauffman Stadium for seven years—he hit .284 with 127 home runs and won four Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger. He left for the Padres and an eight-year, $144 million deal after the 2017 season, but hasn’t had the same bat (.264 average, 61 homers) or glove (no National League Gold Gloves) since joining San Diego.

Myers, a third round pick of the Royals in the 2009 amateur draft, seemed ready for the majors after slashing .314/.387/.600 with 37 homers and 109 RBIs in a 2012 season split between Double-A and Triple-A. But the club needed pretty tempting bait to pry James Shields and Wade Davis from Tampa Bay during the offseason, and bundled Myers with Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard to make the deal happen.

Myers made his major league debut and played two seasons with Tampa before another trade took him to San Diego, where he’s hit .253 with 127 homers in seven years. This is the last year of his current six-season, $83 million deal.

Now, the Padres, clearly wanting to save money, are, per FanSided’s Call to the Pen, reportedly shopping Hosmer, who they still owe at least $59 million, and Myers, to whom they’re on the hook for at least $20 million. Those remaining obligations may seriously hinder moving either player.

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But the Padres seem motivated to shed at least one of those contracts. Don’t be surprised if they’re willing to assume a good chunk of one—or both—to relieve some internal financial pressure.

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Kansas City hasn’t made any post-lockout moves, but the Hot Stove has heated up for some former Royals.