KC Royals: 2 players out of minor league options ahead of 2023 season

Kansas City Royals v Boston Red Sox
Kansas City Royals v Boston Red Sox / Omar Rawlings/GettyImages
2 of 3

Pitcher Carlos Hernández

Pitcher Carlos Hernández's performance in 2022 is likely one of the most disappointing, especially after a promising season in 2021. He was a 1.0 WAR player in 2021, pitching 85 2/3 innings with a 6-2 record. The 3.68 ERA looked promising too, as Hernández performed well as a starter and out of the bullpen. Then he just had a dud of a 2022 season. The stats trended in all the wrong directions, and he struggled to find a consistent role with the Royals. Opposing batters figured out his four-seam fastball, which was previously his best pitch. Hernández's slider was also much less effective due to less movement.

A side effect of Hernández's poor performance was his bouncing back and forth between Kansas City and Omaha at points. The Royals would use him for a stretch, then send him back to Omaha. It is not like he was making the decision hard at all. The puzzle now is: What do the Royals do with him during the 2023 season? Hernández is likely out of the rotation, but he can certainly be useful out of the bullpen. He surrendered fewer runs, struck out more batters, and was more valuable to the Royals out of the bullpen. The Royals need to be careful with not only his usage but also when they decide to bring him to the major league roster.

Hernández might not make the Opening Day roster, and that's not a bad thing. His best role might be as a reliever in Omaha, and the Royals will bring him up later. There are other members of the bullpen who could be easily DFA'd if their performances aren't meeting standards, and then Hernández takes their spot. When that move is made, the onus will undoubtedly be on him to deliver because his job is literally on the line.