3 big mistakes the KC Royals should not make...but might

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Trading Nicky Lopez might make some sense, but the KC Royals shouldn't do it.

The speculation isn't rampant, at least not yet, but some advocate for moving Nicky Lopez. He's dispensable, they say, even after becoming the first Royal shortstop to hit .300 only a year ago, and being arguably snubbed for at least two Gold Gloves.

The rap on Lopez is, of course, his bat. Other than in 2021, when he stepped in admirably for Adalberto Mondesi and achieved that .300 average over a highly successful season, and as his .240 in 2019, .201 in 2020, and .227 last season tend to prove, he hasn't hit well enough to play every day.

But does that mean the Royals should trade him? No. He's fast defensively and offensively (22 steals two seasons ago and 13 last year), hits from the left side, and plays stellar defense.

It's that good glove that makes Lopez worth keeping, especially considering his ability to play second base, shortstop and third well. His career fielding percentages of .990 at second, .986 at short, and 1.000 in limited exposure to third, are all above league average, and his 14 OAA at shortstop last season were second only to Dansby Swanson in the majors.

Only Adalberto Mondesi has Lopez's kind of infield versatility, but the torn ACL he suffered last year and his significant prior injury history renders him unreliable over the long haul of a full big league season. And with Whit Merrifield gone and Nate Eaton and Michael Massey untested for a complete campaign, the Royals need a proven versatile backup infielder, one capable of playing every night if necessary.

Perhaps Kansas City could get a decent return for Lopez, which might lead J.J. Picollo to listen to offers. But for now, the Royals need him.