Why 3 KC Royals may need to find new clubs in 2023

(Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports) /
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The KC Royals are having a bad season. Little progress is evident and, aside from the exploits of rookies Bobby Witt Jr. and MJ Melendez, the product on the field only occasionally captures and holds fans’ attention. And after Texas punished them 10-4 Monday night, the Royals are again 20 games under .500 (26-46) with 90 games remaining in a campaign that probably won’t get much better—the Royals are well on pace to lose over 100 games.

But whether Kansas City loses more or fewer than 100 games, changes are coming. The Royals have made two already—in Monday moves made inevitable by the contract year he’s playing out and the need to promote Vinnie Pasquantino to the majors, Carlos Santana was traded and Pasquantino is now a Royal.

Those won’t be the last personnel changes: left fielder Andrew Benintendi, center fielder Michael A. Taylor, and second baseman-right fielder Whit Merrifield could be gone by the August 2 trade deadline.

And if even if they survive August 2, which they almost certainly will, at least three other Royals may, unless they improve remarkably, be searching for new clubs after the season ends.

The KC Royals may keep Ryan O’Hearn this year, but shouldn’t next season.

That Ryan O’Hearn is still on Kansas City’s roster proves just how defiantly stubborn this club can be. Yes, he once hit for an acceptable average and belted enough home runs to make him worth having, but that was in 2018 when, in 44 games as a rookie, he batted .262 with 12 homers. He hit 14 homers the following year, but batted .195, an atrocious clip he somehow managed to duplicate in 2020.

O’Hearn struggled back above the Mendoza Line in 2021, but at .204 is hovering close to it again. Not even his good pinch hitting—he’s 7-for-15 in that role this season—should render him salvageable. The Royals should cut him loose as soon as today, but no later than this winter.