The Royals have been one of MLB’s most active clubs early in the offseason, adding four free agents — Mike Minor, Carlos Santana, Greg Holland and Michael A. Taylor — on big league deals and jettisoning Maikel Franco via non-tender. General manager Dayton Moore isn’t calling it an offseason yet, however, as he detailed in an appearance on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM this morning (Twitter link, with audio).
Franco’s non-tender appeared to set the stage for Hunter Dozier to slot in at third base, and Moore made clear that the organization’s preference is indeed for Dozier to solidify the position. However, the GM noted that due to Dozier’s versatility, he’s still open to adding a third baseman and deploying Dozier elsewhere (likely in the outfield). As such, Kansas City’s search for another bat in the lineup won’t necessarily be restricted by position. Moore did acknowledge that his ideal addition would bat from the left side of the plate.
That certainly makes sense, as the club’s lineup leans right-handed at the moment with Salvador Perez, Whit Merrifield, Jorge Soler and Dozier all locked into regular roles. The aforementioned Taylor also hits right-handed. Santana and Adalberto Mondesi give the club a pair of switch-hitters, while Franchy Cordero and light-hitting second baseman Nicky Lopez bat from the left side.
Cordero, of course, has yet to solidify himself as a big league regular, but the Royals are hopeful that’ll happen in 2021. Moore specifically cites getting playing time for Cordero as a priority in 2021, so it seems he’ll join a carousel of Merrifield, Taylor, Edward Olivares and any external option signed by Moore (or Dozier, should the Royals sign a third baseman). The club could also find playing time for Merrifield at second base if Lopez’s offensive woes continue.
There’s no shortage of lefty-swinging third basemen on the market at the moment. Any of Jake Lamb, Travis Shaw or Brad Miller would be affordable, as would veteran switch-hitters like Asdrubal Cabrera or Marwin Gonzalez (the latter of whom could play third base or in the outfield). The list of outfield options is considerably longer, with Michael Brantley headlining the list of lefty-hitting free agents. Japanese star Haruki Nishikawa would fit the Royals’ frequent mold of speed/defense-oriented players, and if Moore’s previous comments about bolstering his team’s OBP are still a guiding factor, veterans like Matthew Joyce, Nick Markakis or Robbie Grossman are all sensible, affordable targets.
The Royals’ payroll currently checks in at about $87MM, so there’s room to add another bat, a more experienced backup option behind the plate and/or an additional arm to the bullpen while still remaining within striking distance of last year’s $95MM Opening Day mark (prior to prorating salaries).