Recognizing the need to significantly bolster his club's pitching, KC Royals general manager J.J. Picollo's winter work has brought big league hurlers Michael Wacha, Seth Lugo, Will Smith, Nick Anderson, Chris Stratton, and Kyle Wright to Kansas City. Although Wright's recovery from shoulder surgery probably renders him unavailable until the 2025 season, the others should give the Royals' pitching system the jolt it needs this year.
But pitching isn't the only thing Picollo is striving to improve. He doesn't hide his desire to beef up Kansas City's offense with at least one new bat. And although the club welcomed a veteran position player to the organization Wednesday, its search for new offense continues— their newest acquisition brings excellent defense, but a very quiet bat, to the Royals.
Veteran major league catcher Sandy León has signed with KC
The Royals announced Wednesday they've signed León to a minor league deal and invited him to join them for spring training. Catchers and pitchers report to camp Feb. 14.
León won't supplant starter Salvador Perez or primary big league backup Freddy Fermin. Instead, he'll supplement the team's present backstop insurance, which includes Logan Porter, a decent minor league hitter and catcher who made his major league debut late last season.
At 34 (35 in March), León doesn't represent a long-term investment for the Royals, but he does boast impressive defensive credentials. In 12 seasons and 518 games behind major league plates, he's thrown out an above-league average 29% of would-be base stealers and has 33 DRS.
Where León won't provide much, if any, help, though, is at the plate. Only three times in his dozen-campaign career has he broken baseball's Mendoza Line — he hit .310 in 252 at-bats with the Red Sox in 2016, .267 in 30 ABs for Washington four years before that, and .225 in 271 for the 2017 Red Sox.
León's career line is .208/.276/.311. He's hit 31 big league homers but none in the last two seasons.
Besides his stops in Texas, Boston, and Washington, he's also put in major league time with Miami, Minnesota, and Cleveland. Although he's never played in more than 89 games in any season, León's reputation as an excellent backup catcher is well-established.
Will León find his way onto the Royals' active roster in 2024? That remains to be seen, but his chances of doing so depend more on the health of Pererz and Fermin, and perhaps Porter, than they do on anything else.