KC Royals: 3 players who need to be on the bubble

(Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images) /
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It’s no shock longtime KC Royals baseball executive J.J. Picollo hasn’t made any major moves since taking the reins last week from Dayton Moore. Seismic change makes little sense this late in the season and Picollo needs time to determine who, and who won’t, return next year.

Some decisions will be more complicated than others. Pitcher Zack Greinke, for example, is on a one-year contract and eligible for free agency; whether he wants to pitch another year in Kansas City, move on to another club, or retire, is unknown, at least publicly. Even if he’s contemplating another season as a Royal, it won’t happen unless the team wants him back. Picollo must also decide how much farther to go with injury-plagued Adalberto Mondesi.

Then there are “bubble” players, those middle-zone Royals who are neither locks nor totally out of the picture for 2023.

Not including Ryan O’Hearn, with whom the Royals simply need to part, who are three (but certainly not all) of them?

A slumping outfielder may not make it back to the KC Royals next season.

Kyle Isbel made a bit of a splash when he made Kansas City’s 2021 Opening Day lineup and went 3-for-5 with two RBIs, then collected two more hits and another RBI in the club’s second game.

Isbel soon slumped, going hitless in eight of his next 10 games, and found himself back in the minors before May. He returned in September, hit .286 down the stretch, and has been with the Royals most of this season.

But all hasn’t been good for Isbel. His soft bat consistently overshadows his good glove—he’s hitting .211 and hasn’t been above .220 since Aug. 15. The 242 at-bats he’s collected in 100 games suggest his woes don’t stem from lack of playing time. He may require corrective action at Triple-A Omaha, or a complete change of scenery.

Put Isbel on Picollo’s bubble.

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