KC Royals: Who's next in line for a big extension?

Bobby Witt Jr. is in for the long haul. Who should the club extend next?
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
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Maikel García: Extension by default?

MJ Melendez has probably flashed the most of the remaining extension candidates, but he's been inconsistent at the plate and much uncertainty surrounds his defense. In addition to being an oft-rumored trade candidate, it makes sense to wait on him, even if that means his price may ultimately go up.

The Royals could certainly lock up Michael Massey for a reasonable price, but considering they have Nick Loftin and made the somewhat puzzling decision to sign Adam Frazier, it doesn't appear they're comfortable handing Massey second base in the short term, let alone a long-range contract. Nick Pratto or Kyle Isbel also haven't proven capable enough with the bat to justify big investments. Freddy Fermin had a very good 2023, but he's a backup catcher. Most of KC's young pitchers are still in prove-it mode.

That leaves Maikel García, who took over third base last season and did a lot of good things, and he and Witt make for a top-notch defensive combo. He's a serviceable leadoff hitter capable of good on-base numbers, and has great speed once he gets on board.

The question about García is whether he has enough pop. He slugged only .358 last season with four home runs, although his speed helped him leg out 20 doubles and four triples. His are more than decent numbers for a bottom-of-the-order bat, but if he's going to man the hot corner for years to come and become a cornerstone of a successful team, he needs to improve his power.

For those looking for a reason to believe he will, he lit up the Venezuelan Winter League this offseason. While he hit just two homers in 29 games, he cracked nine doubles, slugged .576, and posted a 1.118 OPS. Yes, it's a small sample size, and the VWL is definitely not the major leagues, but if general manager J.J. Picollo and principal owner John Sherman feel like rolling the dice, maybe that's enough for them to take notice.

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