The Royals have signed outfielder JaCoby Jones to a minor league deal, announcing the move via Twitter. The club also officially announced the re-signing of lefty Richard Lovelady, which had been reported earlier today.
Jones, who had spent his entire career with the Tigers, elected free agency at the end of the regular season. After agreeing to a one-year, $2.65MM contract before the season, Jones got off to a dismal start, posting a meager .170/.210/.250 batting line over 105 plate appearances. He was optioned to Triple-A Toledo in May and was designated for assignment in June.
A high-end athlete and solid defender (he posted 20 defensive runs saved between center and left in 2018, though he followed that up with -14 in 2019), Jones has struggled to establish himself at the plate. Across parts of six seasons, he compiled a .212/.275/.371 triple-slash in 1,195 trips to the plate. His best season came in 2020, when he put up a .268/.333/.515 line (good for a 129 OPS+), albeit in only 30 games. Though he’s shown decent power, he’s struck out at a 32.6% clip for his career (roughly ten points above the big-league average) while walking in only 6% of his trips to the plate.
The former LSU Tiger, who is entering his age-30 season, will look for a fresh start with the Royals, who have a likely quartet of rotating likely outfield starters (Andrew Benintendi, Michael A. Taylor, Hunter Dozier, and Kyle Isbel) in place but will be looking for depth. Barring an injury to any of those four, he’ll likely compete with the left-handed Ryan O’Hearn for a bench spot.