Does Chicago have a solution for the KC Royals?

Hunter Renfroe isn't hitting. The White Sox might have a player available.
Brian Bradshaw Sevald-USA TODAY Sports

That KC Royals outfielder Hunter Renfroe is an infamously slow starter is a point being made almost daily. and accurately, by others. There is no need to belabor that proven fact in this space.

Suffice it to say Renfroe isn't doing what the Royals acquired him to do when they signed him in mid-December. Contrary to the club's plans, he isn't beefing up its weak-hitting outfield. And nothing in his current performance suggests he's about to explode at the plate.

Yes, it's only early May, meaning Renfroe has, as usual, failed to awaken his still-hibernating bat. Entering Tuesday night's game with Milwaukee, he was slashing .161/.228/.290, and the home run he hit against Texas Friday was only his third.

Notorious for their patience, the club hasn't given up on Renfroe — he's played in 31 of their 36 games and was scheduled to start against the Brewers Tuesday night. But if his molasses-like start lasts too long, the Royals will have to try something different, especially considering they seem so strongly committed to developing left fielder MJ Melendez, whose .183/.248/.356 line isn't that much better than Renfroe's; KC can't afford two soft bats in the corners, and Melendez appears destined to stay.

Is there a plan if Renfroe's slump continues? How about Tommy Pham, who's now the subject of early-season trade rumors?

The Royals shouldn't pursue a deal for Tommy Pham

News began breaking Sunday that the White Sox may deal Pham, a long-time big league outfielder who signed a minor league deal with the organization only three weeks ago and made his Chicago debut April 26. Just beginning his 11th year in the majors, he's hitting .282 with a pair of homers and five RBI in 10 games.

At first glance, going after Pham might be something Kansas City should consider — his bat seems sound and he has plenty of veteran experience and savvy to offer a young club like the Royals.

But too much weighs against the idea.

There's his age. Pham turned 36 in March, a milestone signaling his career is well into its late innings, his most productive seasons are behind him, and he'd be only a short-term solution if he panned out.

Then there's the cost. He won't command a huge salary, but the Sox may well demand more for him than the Royals should be willing to give for a player who probably won't be with them next season.

And although he homered 16 times, drove in 68 runs, and batted .256 in a season split between the Mets and Diamondbacks last year, Pham hasn't seen a season above .268 since he hit .273 for Tampa Bay in 2019. Renfroe, on the other hand, hit 20 homers, had 60 RBI, and batted .233 across stints with the Angels and Reds. Are the two players' 2023 numbers really different enough to justify chasing Pham but probably losing him this winter?

No, Pham is a temptation the Royals should resist. Instead, they should look first to Triple-A Omaha, where Nate Eaton, Drew Waters, John Rave, and more recently Nick Pratto, are all wielding decent bats.

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