Free agents will be able to negotiate with other teams beginning this evening, and while the Royals have downplayed being active in free agency, they may be looking to sign a few players. Previous reports indicated they were looking to sign a starting pitcher or two, but in a recent interview with MLB.com reporter Anne Rogers, J.J. Picollo indicated they could be looking to add on offense as well.
“We’re going to look to improve any way we can,” Picollo said. “The nice thing is, we have a lot of flexibility with the positional guys. A lot of guys that can play a lot of different positions. It doesn’t pigeonhole us into saying, ‘We need to go get this position.’ I think we’re thinking more right-handed bat more so than left-handed. But we want the ability to match up and have the depth on our bench that allows us to make moves late in games.
No specific names are mentioned, but Picollo adds that they are looking for someone who can “lead by experience” and be a voice in the clubhouse to balance against all the youth.
As for what position this right-handed bat would play, the Royals have some flexibility. Rogers indicates that Bobby Witt Jr. will likely play shortstop, which could leave an opening at third base. Some of the free agents that could fit that bill:
Brandon Drury - The 30-year-old is coming off a career season in which he hit .263/.320/.492 with 28 home runs, but had been a journeyman before this year.
Evan Longoria - The long-time veteran is now 36 and has been limited to just 170 games over the last two seasons combined. He hit .244/.315/.451 with 14 home runs this year in half a season.
Justin Turner - The two-time All-Star turns 38 in a few weeks and is coming off a .278/.350/.438 season where his power dropped to 13 home runs in 128 games.
Another possibility is outfield, where the Royals have a lot of options but few set starter. Michael A. Taylor is the starter in centerfield, although he could be traded, with Drew Waters behind him. Edward Olivares, Hunter Dozier, Kyle Isbel, and Nate Eaton could all be in the mix for corner outfield positions. The veteran right-handed free agent options in the corner outfield include:
Adam Duvall - A plus defender and former Gold Glove winner, but his bat really fell off this year, and the 34-year-old hit .213/.276/.401 with 12 home runs in 86 games.
Mitch Haniger - Had a horrible season, hitting .246/.308/.429, but the 31-year-old did hit 39 home runs in 2021.
Trey Mancini - More of a first baseman/DH, may not work in the corner outfield of the K, and the 30-year-old has been declining with the bat, hitting .239/.319/.391 with 18 HR in 143 games before his disastrous post-season.
Andrew McCutchen - The 36-year-old may need to DH a lot, although his offense is in decline. He hit .237/.316/.384 with 17 home runs last year.
Wil Myers - The former Royals prospect missed a month with knee issues, and hit .261/.315/.398 with 7 home runs in 77 games at age 31.
Tyler Naquin - More of a part-time player who has a reverse split, hitting righties well. The 31-year-old doesn’t walk much, and hit .229/.282/.423 with 11 home runs in 105 games.
Tommy Pham - The 34-year-old comes with a bit of baggage as a known gambler and purveyor of strip clubs who slapped Joc Pederson for a beef in fantasy football.. He hit .236/.312/.374 with 17 home runs last year.
Kevin Pillar - Shoulder surgery limited him to just four games, but the 34-year-old is capable of playing centerfield as well. Hit .231/.277/.415 with 15 home runs in 2021 with the Mets.
A.J. Pollock - The 34-year-old can also play some center, although his bat declined considerably in 2022 with a line of .245/.292/.389 with 14 home runs.
The Royals could also pursue a veteran bat through a trad. They have some financial flexibility with only about $70 million in payroll obligations next year.