Just as they have so many times before, the Winter Meetings ended without a bang for the KC Royals. They left Nashville earlier this week and headed back to Kansas City still in need of more pitching help and a new bat or bats. Yes, they made a few minor moves, but more significant ones must be made.
The Royals are sure to do more this winter than they have so far; just what they do, and how far they go, remain to be seen.
What, though, of popular former Royals who are on the move or rumored to be? Several such players have been making news.
It looks like Jorge López is returning to the National League
Jorge López, the former Kansas City starter whose effective stuff once made him a look like a lock for a long and successful Royal future, but whose inconsistency rendered him expendable, is headed for the National League for the third time.
Kansas City acquired López from Milwaukee, his first big league club, in the 2018 Mike Moustakas trade, and he went 6-13 in three seasons for the Royals before Baltimore snatched him away via a waiver claim in 2020. He's since pitched for the Orioles, for whom he became a capable reliever, before they dealt him to the Twins in 2022 and they traded him to Miami last summer. The Marlins, López's second NL stop, waived him and he finished the campaign back in Baltimore.
Now, he's apparently a Met — New York has reportedly signed him to a one-year contract.
Former KC reliever Trevor Rosenthal sounds eager eager for a comeback
Trevor Rosenthal came to Kansas City not long before spring camp opened in 2020. It didn't take him long to seize the closer's job, and he saved seven games for the Royals before they shipped him to San Diego at the pandemic-truncated season's trade deadline. He helped the Padres into the postseason; unfortunately, a series of serious injuries and Tommy John Surgery have prevented him from throwing a big league pitch since.
Now, however, Andrew Wang writes at our FanSided sister site Redbird Rants that Rosenthal seems quite interested in pitching this coming season, perhaps even with the Cardinals, for whom he spent six seasons and worked under ex-KC manager Mike Matheny when he skippered the Redbirds.
Is Whit Merrifield headed for one of the "Sox" teams?
Whit Merrifield, whose trade from Kansas City to Toronto two trade deadlines ago surprised many, is testing free agency for the first time in his eight-season major league career. Probably the best utility-type player ever to wear a Royals uniform, he hit the open market after he and the Blue Jays declined a 2024 mutual option.
Merrifield has been linked to the White Sox for quite some time, which makes some sense considering former Royal Chris Getz is Chicago's new general manager, ex-KC bench coach Pedro Grifol will begin his second year as White Sox manager when spring training opens in February, and former KC infielder Nicky Lopez now works on the South Side (more on that in a moment).
More recent, though, is a report that Merrifield may be on Boston's free agent target list. He could be a good addition to a club striving to make their first postseason appearance since 2021.
Traded again, two ex-Royals are back in the American League Central
In one of the worst trades in recent Royals history, Kansas City dealt infielder Ncky Lopez to the Braves for Taylor Hearn at this summer's trade deadline. Yes, Lopez might have been expendable, but the return — Hearn — is what made the transaction so bad that Kings of Kauffman's Jacob Milham slapped it with an "F".
Lopez performed well for Atlanta and saw his first postseason action. Hearn, on the other hand, gave up almost a run an inning in a short stint with the Royals and has reportedly signed a deal to pitch next in Japan.
The Braves decided to move on from Lopez and recently traded him and four others to the White Sox for reliever Aaron Bummer.
Also returning to the AL Central is former Kansas City closer Scott Barlow; the Royals traded him to the Padres in July, and the Padres recently sent him to Cleveland for Enyel De Los Santos.