It took a winless six-game road trip, but the KC Royals are curating the major-league roster in a way that pleases fans. It removed some offensive dead weight, at least when the team designated veteran outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. for assignment. It ends a forgettable quarter-season marriage between Kansas City and Bradley and promotes speedster Dairon Blanco to the major-league level.
The KC Royals saw little return on their investment in Jackie Bradley Jr.
Blanco deserved a promotion after leading the minors in steals this season while playing solid defense in center field. But the Royals moving on from Bradley feels like the real story here. Bradley, a former All-Star and Gold Glove winner signed a minor league deal with the Royals this offseason and was one of three veteran non-roster invitees who made the Opening Day roster out of spring training. The signing made sense at the time. Outfielder Drew Waters missed significant time with an oblique injury, and Bradley gave Kansas City an elite glove in centerfield. But, the good glove could not overshadow a terrible .397 OPS and team-worst 62 wRC+ in 133 plate appearances this season. Bradley's poor offensive performance made him a liability for a team already struggling at the plate. Manager Matt Quatraro slowly phased Bradley out of the lineup, similar to Hunter Dozier before his eventual release. He appeared in only three games this month after making 20 appearances in both May and April.
Now, with the Royals having a week to make a decision, they are faced with three options regarding Bradley's future: trading him, passing him through outright waivers, or releasing him. Passing him through waivers seems unlikely, as he has enough service time to reject a minor-league assignment. The chances of a team trading for Bradley are similarly slim. He has been an offensive liability since 2020, seeing his power diminish and his walk rate decline.
Therefore, the most likely outcome is that Bradley will hit the free-agent market once again, continuing his journey with yet another team. After being with three different teams in just the past calendar year, Bradley's major-league future is uncertain at best.