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White Sox have reportedly expressed interest in infielder Nicky Lopez

Could the Chicago kid return home?

Kansas City Royals v Cleveland Guardians Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images

The Chicago White Sox have “expressed interest” in Royals infielder Nicky Lopez, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Rosenthal tweets that the Royals are “not eager” to move Lopez, viewing him as important depth and a hedge at second base in case Michael Massey is not ready for the big leagues to begin the season. Jeff Passan of ESPN also reported the Royals have spoken with teams about Lopez and Hunter Dozier.

Lopez enjoyed his best offensive season in 2021, but regressed badly last season, hitting .227/.281/.273 in 480 plate appearances, and his 57 wRC+ was the worst in baseball for someone with that much playing time. However, he is still a plus defender in the infield and was worth 1.2 WAR, according to Fangraphs. The White Sox currently have an opening at second base with Josh Harrison, last year’s starter, currently a free agent. Romy Garcia is currently the most likely candidate to start, but the White Sox may be looking for more options.

Lopez is a Chicago native and could be a good fit in his hometown. He is also familiar with White Sox manager Pedro Grifol, who spent the last few seasons as the Royals bench coach, and hitting coach Mike Tosar, who was with the Royals last year. The Royals have club control of Lopez through 2025, and he is only earning $3.7 million this season, but his weak bat and the emergence of Massey last season makes him expendable. The 24-year-old Massey hit .246/.307/.376 with four home runs in 52 games last season.

The Royals have already traded infielder Adalberto Mondesi to Boston and outfielder Michael A. Taylor to Minnesota, leaving the 27-year-old Lopez as the third-oldest position player on the 40-man roster behind Salvador Perez and Hunter Dozier.