The Royals have been fairly inactive this winter, but that may be starting to change as rumors this week report they are interested in starting pitching and they have been linked them to slugger Pedro Alvarez. They acquired outfielder Peter O’Brien from the Diamondbacks as depth on Tuesday, but may be interested in adding another power bat, Matt Adams of the Cardinals, according to USA Today reporter Bob Nightengale.
Adams is a 28-year old left-handed hitter who has spent the last five seasons with the Cardinals. Last year he hit .249/.309/.471 with 16 home runs in 118 games. In his career he is a lifetime .270/.314/.455 hitter. He has become expendable in St. Louis with the team intending to move infielder Matt Carpenter to first base.
The rotund slugger would likely have to sit against lefties, as he has generally only hit righties effectively. He has an OPS of .811 against righties and just .595 against lefties in his career. Adams has also been hit by the injury bug in his career, landing on the disabled list last August with shoulder inflammation. He missed half of the 2015 season with a torn calf muscle, and had stints on the disabled list in 2013 and 2014 as well. He put up a 2 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) level season in 2014, but has generally been just above replacement level.
He is a free-swinger, with a walk rate of 6.0% and a strikeout rate of 22.9%. He is a below-average baserunner and below-average defender, although not terrible at either, and could spell Eric Hosmer at times. Most likely his role in Kansas City would be as a left-handed designated hitter to platoon with a right-handed bat, possibly Salvador Perez, Lorenzo Cain, or Jorge Soler to give those players a break from the field. Adams could then take over at first base in 2018 if Hosmer departs via free agency.
Adams is under club control through the 2018 season, and is arbitration-eligible this winter. MLB Trade Rumors projects he will earn about $2.8 million, which should be attractive to the cost-conscious Royals.
It is unclear what the Cardinals would want in exchange for Adams, although it should not be a big return, as St. Louis seems to be a very willing seller. There are a lot of other designated hitter options on the free agent market, and it will come down to whether the Royals are more willing to give up money for a free agent, or minor leaguers for Adams.
With so many other options on the market, Adams seems like an unwise option if it costs much of anything in terms of prospects to land him. He is cheap, but probably only slightly cheaper than hitters like Chris Carter or Pedro Alvarez will be on the market. Nightengale tweeted the Royals “had” talks with Adams, which kind of suggests that talks are over, although it seems unlikely that Peter O’Brien is the answer at DH and the Royals will stop looking at other options. Unless the Cardinals are looking to just give Adams away, the Royals would probably be better off using this rumor as leverage to negotiate against the glut of better sluggers available.