The Royals tried to bring in free agent second baseman Neil Walker on a minor league deal with an invitation to big league camp, but he wasn’t receptive to that, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports. As a member of the Royals, Walker could have pushed for a role at second (they already have Whit Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi as possibilities there, however) or even the corner infield, where the team has lost first baseman Eric Hosmer (though it recently signed a replacement in Lucas Duda) and is likely to see free agent third baseman Mike Moustakas depart. It’s not surprising that Walker’s holding out for a major league pact, though, considering the successful career he has enjoyed with the Pirates, Mets and Brewers. The switch-hitting 32-year-old is coming off his seventh straight season with at least 2.0 fWAR. Despite Walker’s quality resume, he’s one of many accomplished free agents still sitting on the open market as the regular season draws closer, as MLBTR’s Steve Adams pointed out earlier this week.
Here’s more on Kansas City and a couple other AL clubs:
- Since winning a World Series in 2015, the Royals have posted back-to-back non-playoff seasons. Now, thanks in part to the losses of Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain and Mike Minor (and Moustakas’ potential exit), it appears they’ll be in for more lean years in the near future. Nevertheless, longtime general manager Dayton Moore explained to Joe Posnanski of MLB.com that he is bullish on the franchise’s direction “As an organization, you should know your players better than anyone else. We believe in our young players,” Moore said. “We have faith in our future. I know this may sound strange, but I have never felt more confident in what we are doing.” While the Royals’ next wave of talent isn’t highly regarded (Baseball America has their farm system 29th out of 30 in its latest organizational rankings), Moore isn’t fazed. “Nobody had [five-time All-Star] Salvador Perez on their Top 100 list,” he noted. “Nobody had Lorenzo Cain on their Top 100 list. Nobody had Greg Holland or Kelvin Herrera on their Top 100 list.”
- When Moore-led Kansas City traded Brandon Moss to Oakland in January, the slugger insisted he’d find a way to make the Athletics’ roster, even though there was no clear fit for him then. At that point, the A’s were reportedly interested in flipping Moss (whom they owe $5MM through next season), but nothing has come together yet. Still, the 34-year-old continues to be a long shot to earn a roster spot with the A’s, per Jane Lee of MLB.com. Moss’ positions – first base and designated hitter – remain spoken for in Oakland, which also has a “spillover on the bench,” Lee writes. Moss is hopeful he’ll stay an Athletic (he thrived with them earlier in his career), but either way, he has been working to rebound from a rough 2017 in which he hit just .207/.279/.428 in 401 plate appearances. The left-handed Moss had the majors’ highest pull percentage (53.0) among those with at least 400 PAs, so he’d like to become more of an all-fields hitter. “My batting average keeps going down further and further. The shift just gets more effective against me the slower I get, so I’m going to have to make some adjustments if I want to keep playing,” he observed. “I knew that coming into this year. Last year was just such a bad year. I hit the ball hard last year, but I can’t tell you how many times I would hit the ball into right field on a one-hop line drive and get thrown out at first by a guy halfway in the outfield because I’m not fast enough to beat it out anymore.”
- Although he worked out of their bullpen from 2016-17, the Rangers told right-hander Matt Bush to spend the offseason preparing to start. Now, even after the team added Minor, Doug Fister, Matt Moore and Bartolo Colon as rotation locks or candidates over the winter, Bush expects to be part of its starting staff this year. “I’m starting,” Bush declared Saturday (via Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram). Indeed, the likelihood seems to be increasing that Bush will be part of the Rangers’ rotation, Wilson suggests. The 32-year-old threw 2 2/3 innings Saturday as he attempts to stretch out for a starting role.