If the KC Royals intend to make any major news during Day Three of the Winter Meetings, they’ll have to do it well after the San Diego’s Tuesday dinner hour. Evening fell on the California city hosting baseball’s annual get-together with Kansas City not doing something many hoped they would, and doing another many expected them to.
By mid-evening, the Royals hadn’t swung any big deals, a not particularly newsworthy non-event in and of itself. But they signed infielder Adalberto Mondesi for next season (Twitter link), an anticipated yet controversial move.
Mondesi’s deal enables player and club to sidestep the mutual risks of arbitration and will take him through an incredibly important 2023 season—he’ll come off a season spent primarily rehabilitating from injury and he’ll be eligible for free agency after the 2023 World Series ends.
Some people won’t bemoan Mondesi’s return. Some will. Neither camp should claim they didn’t see it coming.
The KC Royals re-signing Adalberto Mondesi may give the club an advantage.
Those defending Tuesday’s signing will cite his potential. That he has an abundance of it is beyond debate, but it’s a valuable commodity he’s yet to fully exploit or completely fulfill.
They’ll say he’d be a full-fledged star by now but for an agonizingly long list of injuries unfortunately supplemented last season by the torn ACL he suffered in April and to which he lost the rest of the campaign.
And they’ll argue that playing a full, healthy season—something he’s never done unless the 60-game 2020 campaign counts, which it doesn’t—is all Mondesi needs to prove himself.
Detractors will contend Mondesi’s injuries prove he’s too fragile for the rigors of 162-game major league schedules, that his potential is exaggerated, and that the Royals simply shouldn’t invest more in him than they already have. Mondesi, they’ll argue, hasn’t paid regular, much less sufficient, dividends.
We argued in September that the time had come to part ways with Mondesi. Nothing has happened since to convince us otherwise, but the Royals have other thoughts.
Why else would they give him another deal?
There’s no doubt the club wants him; at the same time, inking him to a new deal enhances an important Royals’ option.
Because tendering him a contract last month kept Mondesi under club control, KC extinguished Mondesi’s ability to sign elsewhere without the club receiving anything in return—non-tendered, he would have immediately become a free agent—and acquired the ability to negotiate a palatable salary with him.
Now, Mondesi is a bit more financially attractive to other teams than he might have been if he and the Royals had arbitrated. Baseball’s arbitration awards occasionally exceed what player performance warrants and, had Mondesi won, he could have received much more than the $3.045 million he’ll reportedly receive next year, which is only a slight raise over the $3 million the franchise paid him last season. And that can help the club if it tries to trade him now, in spring training, or next summer—some teams will take a risk on potential at a shade over $3 million.
The KC Royals learned Tuesday where they’ll pick in next year’s draft.
For the first time next year, and as part of the new Basic Agreement MLB and the players negotiated last winter, a lottery will control the top slots in the major league draft’s selection order.
The determinative draw, a feature of the ongoing Winter Meetings, occurred Tuesday with Pittsburgh grabbing the grand prize. The Pirates will choose first followed by Washington, Detroit, Texas, Minnesota and Oakland in the other five lottery spots.
Kansas City will pick eighth.
A rival of the KC Royals apparently picked up a big free agent Tuesday.
It seems defending American League Central Division champion Cleveland strengthened its lineup Tuesday. According to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, the Guardians signed Josh Bell:
A seven-year veteran with a solid bat, Bell followed his 27-home run 2021 season with 17 homers, 71 RBIs and a .266/.362/.422 line split between Washington and San Diego.
The Winter Meetings wind up Wednesday.