Will Brent Rooker continue to haunt the KC Royals this weekend?

Letting Rooker go hasn't been good for Kansas City.
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Brent Rooker, a former KC Royals outfielder and designated hitter. is in town with his Oakland A's this weekend. The surprising Athletics, who despite their 19-26 record occupy third place in the American League West, will try to spoil the Royals' three-day celebration of their 2014 AL pennant-winning club; if that happens, don't be shocked if Rooker and his bat play a big part.

But had you blinked, or been overwhelmed by the surprising 2022 trade deadline swap that sent Whit Merrifield to Toronto, you might have missed the minor deal the Royals made to get Rooker just before the deadline passed — nearly lost in the hubbub surrounding the Merrifleld deal was the trade sending long-time Salvador Perez backup Cam Gallagher to San Diego for Rooker.

And if you blinked again, you could have come close to missing the entirety of Rooker's subsequent Kansas City tenure — he played 14 times for the Royals and hit .161. And although the club obviously saw value in Rooker, it saw more in others and designated him for assignment after the season to clear space on the 40-man roster for Rule 5 Draft purposes.

The A's snatched him on a waiver claim, and the Royals' self-induced loss immediately became Oakland's gain. Rooker's transition to the A's was seamless and successful — his .246 average wasn't great, but he slammed 30 homers, drove in 69 runs in 137 games, and earned an All-Star berth last season.

He also made the Royals pay. More than once.

Brent Rooker has been haunting the Royals

In his first game back at Kauffman Stadium last season, he went 3-for-5 and drove in three key runs as the A's beat KC 12-8 in early May, then doubled home what proved to be Oakland's winning run the very next night. Even more painful was the Aug. 21 ninth-inning homer with which he punished Dylan Coleman and walked the Royals off.

Rooker arrives in Kansas City for tonight's series opener wielding a hot bat. Primarily a designated hitter this season, he already has 10 homers and 28 RBI in 34 games, and is hitting .281 with a .365 OBP. He recently won AL Player of the Week honors.

A strong case can be made that the Royals should have seen that hot bat coming; he hadn't swung it as a Royal, but recent performance suggested it was right around Kansas City's corner —bookended around Rooker's 14 games with the Royals after the trade with San Diego were two stints with Triple-A Omaha across which he hit nine homers with 32 RBI and slashed .338/.424/.775 in just 20 games. And before the trade, he'd homered 19 times and hit .272 for the Padres' Triple-A affiliate.

Should the KC Royals regret waiving Brent Rooker?

At this point, yes. Rooker has the makings of a star. And because he can play the outfield, they could have used him last year, and again this season, given the affliction of soft outfield bats that plagued them in 2023 and continue to do so now.

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