KC Royals News: Club lands versatile big league infielder

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It won't make them contenders, or blow up baseball media, but the move the KC Royals just made may pay a dividend or two.

The club announced via Twitter Saturday the signing of big league infielder Johan Camargo, a switch hitter whose ability to play any infield position could serve the franchise at both the major and minor league levels. Camargo's is a minor league deal and, with the benefit of seven major league campaigns behind him, don't be surprised to see him invited to spring training.

Whether he makes the big club or begins the 2023 season at Triple-A Omaha remains to be seen, but getting to know Camargo is wise because the Royals probably didn't sign him just to give him a quick look and move on.

Just who is this veteran who's the KC Royals' latest offseason signee?

Kansas City fans may never have heard of Camargo, but he's well-known in Atlanta and, more recently, Philadelphia.

Camargo caught Atlanta's attention when he broke in with the Braves in 2017 and hit .299 in 82 games. But 2018 was even better: he won the club's third base job, homered 19 times, drove in 76 runs and slashed .272/.349/.457 in 134 games.

Unfortunately, that kind of success didn't last long for Camargo. The Braves brought in Josh Donaldson to play third in 2019; his role significantly reduced, Camargo hit only .233, and the seven homers he managed represent the most he's clubbed in any season since 2018.

Things went only down hill for him after the disappointment of 2019. He played only 50 games and slashed a combined .177/.228/.324 across 2020 and 2021, and Atlanta didn't re-sign him when he became a free agent after the 2021 campaign.

He moved on to Philadelphia for 2022. He hit .237 in 52 games but, because they DFA'd him with 10 days left in the regular season, Camargo didn't join the Phillies in the World Series.

Camargo, who turned 29 just last month, brings a .255/.313/.410 line to the Royals, but has batted only .219 since his stellar 2018 season.

So, why does he appeal to the Royals?

Start with versatility. Camargo can, and has, played every infield position in his big league career, including 195 games at third base and 95 at shortstop. He also has a bit of experience in the outfield corners (17 games in all) and has dabbled at the DH spot. The effectiveness of his versatility isn't to be confused with Whit Merrifield's, but it's also nothing to sneer at.

That Camargo has committed only four errors in those 95 games at short explains why his career .987 fielding percentage there is 14 points above average, and his collective, all-position fielding percentage is also better than average at .973.

Unless he has a significant resurgence at the plate, Camargo's soft bat means he won't break into the starting Kansas City lineup this season, especially considering Bobby Witt Jr., Vinnie Pasquantino, Nicky Lopez, Michael Massey, Nate Eaton, and Adalberto Mondesi give the Royals a well-stocked infield. But he could be a valuable major league utility man, and his chances of being just that will improve if the club decides, probably as it should, to move on from Mondesi.

And if he doesn't come north with the Royals when they break spring camp, he gives Omaha a decent roster option.

Projecting Salvador Perez . dark. Next

The Royals have signed a new infielder.