Hampson, 29, spent the 2023 season with the Marlins in a utility capacity. He got into 98 games and stepped to the plate 252 times, striking out at a 26.6% clip and only hitting three home runs but he did draw walks 9.1% of the time. His .276/.349/.380 batting line was a hair above league average, translating to a wRC+ of 101, though his .379 batting average on balls in play was almost 60 points higher than his career rate in that department. That roughly average offensive production was actually a big step up from his time in Colorado, as Hampson slashed .233/.292/.369 for the Rockies from 2019 to 2022.
Hitting aside, Hampson can provide value in other ways. His sprint speed was considered by Statcast to be in the 98th percentile in 2023. He only stole five bases on the year but has 57 in his career. Defensively, he has spent time at all three outfield positions and the three infield spots to the left of first base, giving him plenty of versatility.
After the 2022 season, the Rockies non-tendered him instead of paying a projected $2.1MM salary. He then had to settle for a minor league deal with the Marlins and ended up having a decent campaign in a part-time role but it wasn’t enough for the Fish to keep him on the roster. He exhausted his final option year in 2023 and would have less roster flexibility going forward, so the Marlins opted not to tender him a contract at a projected rate of $1.3MM.
The Royals are willing to give him $2MM and a roster spot, presumably to utilize him in the same multi-positional role he has held so far in his career. The club has Bobby Witt Jr. implanted at shortstop but second base and third base have less certainty. Maikel Garcia is the favorite at the hot corner and has a good floor with his speed and defense, but he hit just four home runs in 515 plate appearances in 2023. Michael Massey could be in line for the lion’s share of playing time at second after hitting 15 homers this year but his .274 on-base percentage was among the worst in the league last year. Center field has similar question marks after subpar offensive seasons from Drew Waters and Kyle Isbel.
In addition to those aforementioned areas, injuries will inevitably arise over the course of a 162-game season, creating holes elsewhere. Hampson can help fill in there or perhaps serve as a late-game defensive replacement or pinch runner, depending on how things shake up over the remainder of the offseason. Nick Loftin and Samad Taylor are also on the roster as utility options but they each have options and less than a year of service time.