A KC Royals outfielder needs a great month to set himself apart from others.
Kansas City began the season with an almost stable outfield. Coming off their first-ever Gold Glove campaigns, Andrew Benintendi and Michael A. Taylor were locks in left and center, and right field stacked up as a position Hunter Dozier, Kyle Isbel and Whit Merrifield would eventually settle between themselves.
Five months later, the outfield still hasn’t stabilized. Adalberto Mondesi’s season-ending injury essentially forced Merrifield back to second base, and now he and Benintendi are gone. Taylor has another year on his contract but might, considering his improved bat and KC’s desperate need for pitching, get moved over the winter. The right field puzzle remains unsolved—Isbel, Dozier, Drew Waters, Nate Eaton and Brent Rooker all share time there; Edward Olivares is on injury rehab assignment at Triple-A Omaha but could return soon.
Only MJ Melendez, who plays left more often than not, may have a 2023 outfield spot locked.
Eaton and Rooker are good, but aren’t hitting and could be destined for a bit more seasoning at Triple-A Omaha to begin next season. The Royals are high on Waters, who they obtained in July by trading their Competitive Balance draft pick to Atlanta, so he’ll be in the 2023 mix. And there’s always the chance KC bolsters its outfield talent via trade or free agency.
And Isbel? He went 2-for-3 Friday night to boost his line to .216/.263/.337, not a good follow-up to the .276/.337/.434 he posted in 28 games last year.
Where does all that leave him? Perhaps on the outside looking in, especially if he doesn’t break out of his season-long slump and distinguish himself from the other outfielders down the stretch.