Finally: The KC Royals have DFA'd Hunter Dozier
Just hours after we wondered in this space if May would be the month the KC Royals ended Hunter Dozier's time in Kansas City, the club answered the question by designating him for assignment. The move created space on the active and 40-man rosters for infielder Nicky Lopez, who's completed his post-appendectomy minor league rehab assignment and will start at third base tonight (Twitter link) against Detroit.
It's always possible, of course, that every big league team will pass on making a waiver claim for Dozier, and that the Royals won't be able to trade him during the time he's in the limbo that being DFA'd creates for him. Should no one want Dozier, he could return to the Kansas City organization as a minor leaguer; that, however, seems quite unlikely considering the tone of this afternoon's Tweet from the team:
While the move itself isn't surprising, how long it took the Royals to make it may be. Dozier hasn't had a good Kansas City season since 2019 when, after an eight-game cup of coffee with the Royals in 2016 and a 102-game stint with the club in 2018 during which he hit 11 homers but batted only .229, he seemed to establish himself as KC's third baseman of the future in 2019 when he clubbed 26 homers, tripled 10 times to tie three others—including teammates Whit Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi—for the major league lead, had 84 RBIs, and slashed .279/.348/.522.
Unfortunately, the apparently-fulfilled promise didn't last. Dozier still flashed occasional power with 16 homers in 2021 and 14 in 2022, but he hit only .228 in 2020, .216 in 2021, and .236 last year. His sub-Mendoza .183 average this season only increased the widespread social media calls for the end of his Royal career.
What's next for Hunter Dozier after the KC Royals DFA'd him remains to be seen
Dozier's future is uncertain. Will he catch on with another big league club? Will someone sign him to a minor league deal? Might he defy the odds and find his way back to the Kansas City franchise, either in the near or distant future?
No one knows, but look for Kings of Kauffman to offer some thoughts on the subject in the near future.
What is clear, however, is that absent a trade involving a club that for some reason isn't opposed to taking on the balance of the $7.25 million he's owed for this season and his $9 million salary for 2024, (remember that $25 million deal the club made with him two years ago?), the Royals will pay Dozier a tidy sum for not playing for them. Unless, of course, he isn't traded, clears waivers, and the Royals outright him to the minors. But the latter doesn't seem probable—it looks like his days with the franchise are over.