Why the KC Royals should move on from Franmil Reyes

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Short on reliable proven power, but unwilling or not yet ready to spend big to get it, the KC Royals signed Franmil Reyes to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training just as they were opening their Arizona camp in February. Now, a month into the new season, one thing is certain about the move.

It was, as are almost all such arrangements, worth the try. And that's about it.

Gambling on the slugger who doesn't slug like he used to paid off only in Cactus League play when he hit .340 with three home runs and 12 RBIs in 18 games. But spring stats typically aren't great gauges of how a player will fare once the games begin for real, and such has been the case with Reyes.

His disappointing regular season numbers tell the tale. Through the 19 games he's played going into tonight's homestand-opening contest with Baltimore, Reyes is slashing .186/.231/.288 and his two homers, both hit in his first six appearances, are his only extra-base hits.

The Royals can't say they're shocked by Reyes' lack of production. Feared by big league pitchers after breaking in with 16 home runs in 87 games as a San Diego rookie in 2018, and then clubbing 37 homers in 2019 and 30 in 2021, he slipped to 14 last season and hit only .221; Cleveland waived him in early August and the Cubs, who claimed him, outrighted him in November. He became a free agent.

What Kansas City should do now seems obvious.

It's probably time for the KC Royals to move on from Franmil Reyes

Because the chance they took with Reyes isn't paying dividends, and whatever potential utility he had for the club hasn't materialized, the Royals ought to part ways with him.

His bat is one of the coldest among the club's already too-cold arsenal. He isn't delivering the power the Royals were seeking when they brought him aboard; his 37 wRC+, 36.9 K%, and -0.5 fWAR don't give the Royals much hope for improvement.

And Kansas City is running out of places to play him. Now that they've recalled Nick Pratto and appear to be committed to him for more than just the short term, Reyes' opportunities at designated hitter are sure to dwindle—playing Pratto at first base, the position for which his Gold Glove-caliber defense renders him most suited, means manager Matt Quatraro will give Vinnie Pasquantino the lion's share of DH time.

That leaves the outfield as Reye's primary playing chance. But the outlook there isn't good, either: although he's played the corners five times without making an error this season, he's not great defensively, and the outfield will become a crowded place when Drew Waters returns. Quatraro won't sacrifice Edward Olivares' playing time to get more for Reyes, and the Royals are more likely to keep Kyle Isbel as a backup if they believe Waters is ready to displace him in center. And for a late-inning defensive option, Jackie Bradley Jr. makes more sense than Reyes.

But could the Royals send Reyes down to work on his hitting? Yes, but Triple-A Omaha, his likeliest destination, is teeming with good outfielders and designated hitter-types (think Dairon Blanco, Nate Eaton, Tucker Bradley, Brewer Hicklen, Tyler Gentry, and Logan Porter) from whom he shouldn't take playing time.

So it is, then, that Kansas City needs to let him go or engineer some kind of trade. There simply isn't enough left for him with the Royals.

dark. Next. Awful month finally ends for KC