The Royals may be looking to upgrade their right field position, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. In his latest column, he reports the Royals have been looking at some external options, including Nick Markakis of the Atlanta Braves, and Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds.
Bruce remains a target for a few teams looking for a lefthanded bat, including the Royals. Bruce also makes sense in Anaheim. Teams such as the Royals and Phillies are also looking at Atlanta’s Nick Markakis, though the money is an issue there, especially with the Royals.
The 32-year old Markakis is hitting .252/.362/.348 with 1 HR 24 RBI in 41 games with the Braves. He hit .296/.370/.376 last year and has a .359 career on-base percentage. He is in the second year of a four-year, $44 million deal that will pay him $11 million this year, and in each of the next two seasons. Markakis would fit the ballpark well as a high on-base hitter for the top of the lineup that can hit doubles in the gaps and play adequate corner defense. He won a Gold Glove as recently as 2014, although the metrics are less impressed with him.
Money would be an issue for the Royals who are already at a payroll around $137 million. The Royals reportedly had interest in Markakis last winter. The Braves are willing to take on money for draft picks, unfortunately the Royals have no competitive balance picks to trade. That suggests the Braves may be willing to eat some money in a deal for Markakis, however that would require a greater package of prospects from the Royals. The Kansas City farm system is a bit light following the trades last year of Sean Manaea, Brandon Finnegan, and Cody Reed, the suspension of Raul Mondesi, and the injury to Kyle Zimmer. However they have had strong seasons from prospects like Hunter Dozier, Cheslor Cuthbert, and Ryan O'Hearn, who could be made available.
Jay Bruce has had a bounce back this season with the Reds after two sub-par seasons. He is hitting .273/.329/.525 with 8 HR 27 RBI in 38 games, after hitting just .222/.288/.406 over 2014-2015 combined. Seven of his eight home runs have come in home run-friendly Great American Ballpark. Bruce would be a much less onerous contract to take on, as he is signed only through the rest of the year, with a salary of about $8 million for the remainder of this season plus a $1 million buyout. Bruce does not fit the mold of the Royals organization however as he is a low-average, high strikeout player who plays terrible defense. The 29-year old left-handed bat has been a bit susceptible against lefties, although he has a reverse split this year.
The Royals have spent much of the year with a platoon of Jarrod Dyson and Paulo Orlando. Royals right-fielders are sixth in the American League with a batting average of .284, but are fourth-worst in OPS at .686. Both hitters have been hot lately, with Paulo Orlando hitting . 519/.552/.852 over his last ten games and Jarrod Dyson hitting .333/.333/.476 over his last seven games. The Royals may also have some internal options in Omaha that may be able to help like Brett Eibner and Jorge Bonifacio, both of which have gotten off to good starts in the minors.