Why the latest KC Royals signee may not last long

Kansas City adds another catcher to the organization.

Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

Blessed with eight-time All-Star Salvador Perez and good backup Freddy Fermin, the KC Royals nevertheless included an experienced major league catcher in their bounty of offseason acquisitions. Austin Nola, a member of the Mariners for parts of two seasons and then the Padres for parts of three, signed a free agent deal with Kansas City a few days after spring training began.

Many assumed it would be Nola's job to catch Michael Wacha and Seth Lugo, both of whom he worked with previously, but that proved not to be the case when the Royals optioned him to Triple-A Omaha a few days before Opening Day.

Nola made it into manager Mike Jirschele's Opening Day lineup Friday and went 0-for-4, but found himself on the Injured List Saturday. Nola's new status left Jirschele's Storm Chasers with two catchers, Logan Porter and Kyle Hayes, and only Porter has any major league experience for Kansas City to rely on should injury strike Perez or Fermin. In fact, Hayes' minor league action covers only 36 games and he hasn't played above Double-A.

So, needing a bit of insurance at both the major and minor league levels, the Royals have picked up Brian O'Keefe on a minor league deal; the Chasers will add him to their roster in time for Tuesday's game against Columbus.

Just who is the KC Royals organization's new catcher?

A professinal since the Cardinals drafted and signed him in 2014, O'Keefe has toiled in the minors for the bulk of his career. But he made it to the big leagues for two games with Seattle two seasons ago, and appeared in eight games for the Mariners last year. He has only two hits in 25 at-bats.

In nine minor league campaigns, he's slashing .249/.338/.438 with 116 home runs and 415 RBI.

How long O'Keefe's tenure with the organization will be remains to be seen, but it probably won't be long and may end when Nola returns to the active roster. The Royals likely consider Nola their next-catcher-up, and aren't likely to bump Porter when Nola comes back. That leaves little room for Hayes — and probably O'Keefe — in Omaha.

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