Adalberto Mondesí remains the puzzle the KC Royals can’t, and may never, solve. Supremely talented but continually beleaguered by an almost unbelievable injury history exacerbated by the torn ACL he suffered in April, Mondesí once again presents this question: Will he be healthy enough to play regularly in 2023 … or ever?
It’s a question impossible to answer until well into the season (unless, of course, another catastrophic injury hits Mondesí early in the campaign) and one that complicates Kansas City’s roster planning.
Compounding the problem is how good Kansas City’s infield can be without him, as Nate Eaton, Bobby Witt Jr., Michael Massey, Vinnie Pasquantino, and sometimes Nicky Lopez and Nick Pratto, proved this year.
Could the solution lie now in the Pacific Northwest, where Seattle ended its long absence from the MLB Playoffs this year?
Seattle appears to be seeking a commodity the KC Royals might have.
At least one report suggests the Mariners, bounced from the AL Division Series last week but hungry for another postseason chance, are looking for a second baseman; so said MLB Trade Rumors’ writer Jacob Smith Wednesday, who added the M’s will consider shortstops “willing” to move to second, and mentioned high profile free-agents-to-be Xander Bogaerts (Boston), Carlos Correa (Minnesota), Dansby Swanson (Atlanta) and Trea Turner (Dodgers) as possibilities.
Bogaerts seems likely to re-sign with the Red Sox, Correa may prefer a club with a certain shot at the World Series, Swanson ought to stay with the Braves, and the Dodgers will probably chase Turner and, with the deepest pockets in baseball, should be able to land him.
So, how about Mondesí for the Mariners?
Although his bat has been inconsistent, Mondesí proved he can hit in 2018 (14 home runs and .276 in just 75 games), in 2019 (20 doubles, 10 triples, nine homers and .263 in 102 games), and in the last month of the short 2020 campaign (.356/.408/.667 with six homers and 20 RBIs in 24 games). And he homered six times in 35 games two seasons ago.
His speed? Fast. Mondesí stole 43 bases in 2019, 32 in 2018, and led the majors with 24 steals in 2020.
His defense? Gold Glove caliber.
And second base? He’s no stranger to the position, having played there 68 times in the majors with a .989 fielding percentage that’s better than league average. It’s improbable, then, that Mondesí wouldn’t be interested in playing second if it would guarantee him a position to play in 2023.
The Mariners, though, may be reluctant to pursue Mondesí for one of the reasons the Royals should part ways with him—his injury history.
But should Seattle’s presumed quest for a big name fall short, Mondesí could be a risk worth taking. He’s arbitration-eligible but, after missing all but 15 games in 2022, doesn’t stand to make much more than the $3 million Kansas City paid him this season.
And on the Royals’ side of the equation, moving Mondesí will reduce the potential infield congestion his continuing KC presence might pose. Packaging him with another expendable player or two might also corral some pitching help Kansas City so desperately needs.
That’s why General Manager J.J. Picollo should at least give Seattle President of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto, a big league executive with a proven track record for making moves, a call when trading season opens after the World Series end. Maybe they can make a deal.
As the saying goes, stranger things…
Could the Royals and Seattle do a Mondesí deal?