Yes, yes, the Olivares experience was a wild ride during 2023. His defense was atrocious in left field, as he played a career-high 107 games for the Royals. The team wrecked his progression in previous seasons, yo-yoing him from Kansas City to Omaha. 2023 was supposed to be the year he put it all together and took his place as an everyday outfielder.
That was not the case, and Olivares' defensive woes made him expendable this offseason. The Royals traded him to the Pittsburgh Pirates for minor-league utilityman Deivis Nadal in December. That trade also opened up a 40-man roster spot for free-agent reliever Chris Stratton in Kansas City's opening free-agent flurry.
Royals fans shouldn't be mad about the trade, but there is room to wonder what he could have done with another year. The Pirates desperately needed another outfielder, and Olivares should be in the mix for plenty of starts. His bat will certainly keep him in the running. Royals fans did not realize how good his bat was down the season's stretch.
Among Royals with at least 100 plate appearances in the season's second half, Olivares' 138 wRC+ only trailed shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. His .41 BB/K also ranked second in that split, as Olivares recorded a .355 on-base percentage. Olivares was still not average on the field, but his bat looked great and outweighed his shortcomings.
Olivares is earning $1.35 million with the Pirates this year, a palatable financial number. The Royals could have retained him and used the Hunter Renfroe contract money on another position of need. But the move is done. It remains to be seen if Kansas City offloaded Olivares at the right time or if they missed out on more.