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Royals non-tender Maikel Franco

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The third baseman was in his last year of arbitration.

Detroit Tigers v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

The Royals will non-tender third baseman Maikel Franco, making him a free agent, according to MLB.com reporter Mark Feinsand. The 28-year old hit .278/.321/.457 with eight home runs in 60 games. He was non-tendered last off-season by the Phillies, allowing the Royals to sign him to a one-year deal.

Franco was the sixth-most valuable third baseman by WAR, according to Fangraphs. But according to estimates by MLB Trade Rumors, he was due to make between $4.5 and $8 million next season in his last year of arbitration. Dayton Moore told reporters earlier this week that the team was “likely that we move on from certain players because their financial expectation doesn’t align with what we can do in other areas based on this market.”

The Royals could still re-sign Franco, although he is free to sign with any team. He joins a third base free agent market that includes Justin Turner, Marwin Gonzalez, and Tommy La Stella. Moore has said he is interested in “more on-base guys” and told reporters this week he was “focused on a middle of the order bat or continuing to be able to lengthen out our lineup a little bit”.

If the Royals don’t bring back Franco, they could turn to rookie Kelvin Gutierrez. The 26-year old has appeared in 24 games with the Royals in the last two seasons, but has been hit with injuries. He hit .287/.367/.427 with 9 home runs in 75 games for Triple-A Omaha in 2019. The team could also move Hunter Dozier back to third base, although he played first base at the end of last season and was praised for his defense.

Wednesday was the deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players. The Royals announced they had come to terms on deals with Hunter Dozier for $2.72 million, Jakob Junis for $1.7 million, Jesse Hahn for $1.75 million, and Franchy Cordero for $800,000. That still leaves Adalberto Mondesi, Brad Keller, and Jorge Soler as unsigned arbitration-eligible players. The Royals don’t need to sign them by today, but they need to be tendered contracts by 7 p.m. CT.

Other notable non-tendered players around baseball include White Sox outfielder Nomar Mazara and pitcher Carlos Rodon, Padres infielder Greg Garcia, Indians outfielder Tyler Naquin, and Cubs outfielders Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora. Twins outfielder Eddie Rosario was also placed on outright waivers, clearing them today and becoming a free agent.

6:45 CT update: Jorge Soler has come to terms.

Royals have also non-tendered a few more players.