Some players come to Kansas City and set down roots, staying in the community for the rest of their lives. Others are here and gone in a split second. Some are shipped out of town, others leave as soon as they are able. Here are the best seasons for players who only spent one season in a Kansas City uniform.
Joe Foy, 1969 - 1.6 WAR
Foy was a 25-year old third baseman with solid power and an 108 OPS+ in his career, but the Red Sox were not fond of his defense, and after a drunk driving arrest in 1968, they left him unprotected for the 1969 expansion draft. Despite Foy coming off a down year in 1968, the Royals happily took him with the fourth overall pick. Foy continued to play well for the Royals, hitting .262/.354/.370 with 11 HR 71 RBI and 37 steals with solid defense. However, what Foy is most known for is being traded at the end of the year to the New York Mets for a speedy young outfielder by the name of Amos Otis, a trade considered one of the best heists in Royals history.
David Riske, 2007 - 2.2 WAR
When Dayton Moore arrived in Kansas City, his top priority was improving a horrid pitching staff. He found it easier to acquire free agent relievers than starters, and landed David Riske to a one-year deal for the 2007 season. The right-hander had a decent track record in Cleveland, had to settle for a one-year deal after injuries in 2006. He posted a 2.45 ERA for the Royals in 65 appearances, helped Zack Greinke return from baseball, and after he departed, the Royals received a draft pick as compensation for Riske that turned into pitcher Mike Montgomery.
Gregg Jefferies, 1992 - 2.2 WAR
Jefferies was part of one of the most controversial trades in Royals history, acquired along with outfielder Kevin McReynolds and infielder Keith Miller for pitcher Bret Saberhagen and infielder Bill Pecota. Jefferies was a much hyped-hitter who didn’t have a position. He moved from second base in New York to third base in Kansas City, but he continued to be around league-average with the bat, hitting .285/.329/.404 with 10 HR 75 RBI. However, he committed 26 errors at third base, and the Royals decided they needed more power, so at the end of the year, they shipped Jefferies to St. Louis for right fielder Felix Jose.
Doug Mientkiewicz, 2006 - 2.2 WAR
“Minky” had a well-established reputation as one of the best defensive first basemen in baseball, and he had been the starting first baseman for the World Champion Boston Red Sox just a few years prior. But he had little power for a first baseman, so he had to settle for signing a one-year deal with the Royals in 2006. He continued to not hit home runs, going yard just four times with the Royals, but he was otherwise effective hitter, batting .283/.359/.411 for a team that would lose 100 games.
Chili Davis, 1997 - 2.4 WAR
The Royals had coveted Davis for years, once nearly acquiring him from San Francisco for pitcher Mark Gubicza in 1986. A decade later, they finally executed that trade, although this time from the Angels. The 37-year old Davis was established as one of the top designated hitters in the league, and he continued to hit in Kansas City. .279/.386/.509 with 30 HR 95 RBI, at the time just the eighth player in franchise history to hit as many as 30 home runs in a season. Davis would depart Kansas City to win two rings with the Yankees before retiring.
Ramon Ramirez, 2008 - 2.5 WAR
Say what you will about Dayton Moore, but he has frequently been able to find decent relievers for very cheap. He established this reputation very early, unearthing a gem in Ramon Ramirez. The transaction was nearly anonymous (at one time it was confusing, having been reported initially as a trade for pitcher Valerio de los Santos, but later being reported as a trade for pitcher Jorge de la Rosa), but Ramirez ended up being an important piece in the bullpen. In 71 appearances for the Royals in 2008, he posted a 2.64 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 71 2/3 innings. He was so valuable, the Royals were able to flip him to Boston for starting centerfielder Coco Crisp.
Ervin Santana, 2013 - 2.9 WAR
Santana was a pretty solid pitcher for the Royals, once making an All-Star team and winning 96 games over eight years. But he had an awful season in 2012 and with some injuries in his past, the Angels were considering declining his $13.5 million option. The Royals offered them minor league pitcher Brandon Sisk in exchange for Santana with the Angels sending some cash. Santana’s flyball tendencies flourished in Kansas City as he posted a career-low ERA of 3.24. He expressed some interest in staying in Kansas City, but his agent floated a $100 million contract number that quickly soured the Royals. Kansas City did receive a compensatory pick for Santana, that became pitcher Foster Griffin.
Melky Cabrera, 2011 - 4.4 WAR
Cabrera had been a top prospect with the Yankees, but several years of underwhelming results led them to trade him to the Braves. After one year in Atlanta, Cabrera was cut loose, and signed a one-year, $2.5 million deal with the Royals. The deal turned out to be one of the best signings in Royals history. Cabrera had a career year in Kansas City, hitting .305/.339/.470 with 18 HR 87 RBI and 102 runs. The Royals decided to sell high on him, shipping him to San Francisco for some much-neede starting pitching, but the pitcher they got - Jonathan Sanchez - ended up being a bust while Cabrera was an All-Star in San Francisco.
Bob Johnson, 1970 - 4.5 WAR
Johnson came over to Kansas City from the Mets with Amos Otis for third baseman Joe Foy, only adding to the lopsided nature of the deal. The 26-year old Johnson had some leg injuries with the Mets, but had never been given a chance despite a sensational minor league season in 1969, due to the strong Mets rotation. In Kansas City, Johnson was fantastic, finishing third in the league in strikeouts with 207 and tenth in ERA at 3.07. The right-hander finished runner up to Bert Blyleven in The Sporting News Rookie Pitcher of the Year voting. However, after just one year, they packaged him up with shortstop Jackie Hernandez to land a package of players from Pittsburgh, including coveted shortstop Fred Patek.
Jay Bell 1997 - 5.4 WAR
In the mid-90s, the Pittsburgh Pirates were in major cost-cutting mode, having gotten rid of most of the stars that had helped them win three consecutive division titles earlier in the decade. The Royals agreed to send them a package of mediocre prospects including third baseman Joe Randa, in exchange for both Bell and first baseman Jeff King. The deal was seen as such highway robbery for the Royals, it angered Indians General Manager John Hart.
Bell hit a career-high 21 home runs that year, part of a mysterious three-year stretch where he would clobber 79 home runs, one shy of the home run total for his previous nine full Major League seasons. He would hit .291/.368/.461 for the Royals, the best offensive season ever for a Royals shortstop. Despite ripping teams off in trades to acquire power-hitters Bell, King, Chili Davis, and Dean Palmer that year, the Royals still managed to lose 94 games in 1997. Bell departed for the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks, and Royals shortstops combined to hit .228/.277/.302 in 1998.
Honorable Mention: Coco Crisp (2009), Ben Zobrist (2016), Nori Aoki (2015), Pat Rapp (1998)