KC Royals Predictions: 3 players who won't return next season

Roster cuts are coming in Kansas City.
Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports
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It's time for the KC Royals to move on from first baseman Nick Pratto

Projecting the downfall of Nick Pratto as a Royal was unthinkable when the 2021 season ended. Coming off a flashy campaign split between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha, he won a minor league Gold Glove, clubbed 36 homers, fell two RBIs short of 100, slashed .265/.385/.602, and looked every bit the hot major league prospect he'd become.

But he hasn't hit consistently well since. He broke into the majors last season, but his .184 average and an unfortunately high strikeout rate forced the Royals to send him back to Omaha in September. Pratto returned to Kansas City this season, but his average improved to just .232, which still isn't good for a corner infielder, and he struck out more often (40%) than he did in 2022 (36.3%). (Pratto spent some time in the minors this year and dealt with a groin issue, but still played in 95 big league games).

Now, Pratto is expendable, and for more than one reason. He strikes out too much, the kind of power he displayed in 2021 hasn't returned (he's hit 14 homers in 144 major league appearances), and without him the Royals should be in good shape at first base next season. Vinnie Pasquantino, who spent most of 2023 on the Injured List following shoulder surgery, should be back; if he isn't, expect Loftin and Salvador Perez to share the position. All three potential first-sackers hit better than Pratto.

With that kind of first base depth, Picollo can try to find a trade partner for a Pratto-involved deal.

Who's next?