6:24PM: The Royals have officially announced the signing.
5:37PM: The Royals have signed infielder Hanser Alberto to a minor league deal, according to reporter Junior Matrille (Twitter link). Alberto will earn $1.65MM in guaranteed salary if he makes Kansas City’s big league roster, with another $350K available in potential bonuses.
Alberto has spent the last two seasons as a regular in the Orioles’ lineup, splitting time at second base and third in 2019 and then settling in as the everyday second baseman in 2020. Over 781 plate appearance since the start of the 2019 campaign, Alberto has hit .299/.322/.413 with 15 home runs, with that respectable slash line undermined by a lack of walks and some of the lowest hard-hit ball numbers of any hitter in the league. The Orioles chose to non-tender Alberto rather than pay him a projected arbitration salary in the range of $2.3MM to $4.1MM, and since he has another year of arb eligibility beyond 2021, the Royals potentially have two years of control over his services.
Given the lack of experienced infield depth on the K.C. roster, there certainly seems to be a good chance for Alberto to win himself at least a bench job, and perhaps even a platoon role at second base if Nicky Lopez is protected against left-handed starters. The right-handed hitting Alberto has some very good numbers (.350/.367/.464) in 350 career PA against southpaws over his career.
Alberto has also seen action as a shortstop at the MLB level and even played a handful of games as a first baseman and corner outfielder, adding to his bid for utilityman work. Kelvin Gutierrez, Erick Mejia, and rookie Lucius Fox are some of the other contenders for a backup infielder role, though the Royals’ infield picture could be shaken up considerably during the season if star prospect Bobby Witt Jr. is given an aggressive promotion to the Show.