KC Royals fans who want the club to let Hunter Dozier go might get their wish.
Two Decembers ago, and consistent with their long history of settling with arbitration eligible players, Kansas City sidestepped the process with Hunter Dozier by signing him to a one-year contract. Then, in a move just short of shocking for the usually frugal Royals, they turned around two months later and gave him a four-year deal reportedly worth $25 million.
So far, Dozier hasn’t been worth it. Although he hit 16 homers last season, he batted .216, struggled to a .285 OBP and 83 OPS+, and struck out 154 times (28.4 K%). He’s heated up recently, hitting .333 with a pair of doubles and two homers in his last eight games, but has just a .240 season average and 12 homers. He was also fanning at a 24.8% rate going into Wednesday night’s game at Detroit.
His poor performance and continuing social media cries for his departure notwithstanding, simply letting Dozier go and eating his contract as a consequence seems improbable for the Royals.
But not inconceivable. Or impossible.
For one, the Royals are overpaying an underperforming Dozier, a less than ideal situation made worse by the fact they’re running out of places to play him regularly. Rookie Vinnie Pasquantino has taken over first base. Third base will be manned next season by Nate Eaton, Bobby Witt Jr., or perhaps Nicky Lopez or Adalberto Mondesi unless the club trades for or signs an established veteran. MJ Melendez seems set in left and Edward Olivares could (and ought to) squeeze Dozier out of right field.
And within KC’s financial context and philosophy, Dozier is too expensive to relegate to a reserve role.
So it is Picollo should be considering relocating Dozier. Some teams will entertain trying to turn him around, especially if the Royals agree to pay part of his salary.
At least three Royals should be on the bubble this winter. We’ll discuss more soon.