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Rating how successful a Royals reunion would be for these six players

Could it happen?

Starting pitcher Danny Duffy #30 of the Kansas City Royals offers his cap and glove to be checked after throwing in the first inning aBaltimore Orioles at Kauffman Stadium on July 16, 2021 in Kansas City, Missouri.
Starting pitcher Danny Duffy #30 of the Kansas City Royals offers his cap and glove to be checked after throwing in the first inning aBaltimore Orioles at Kauffman Stadium on July 16, 2021 in Kansas City, Missouri.
Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Teams bring back players who used to be on their rosters all the time later in their careers, but Kansas City does it more than most. With most of the offseason out of the way, it’s time to think about who the Royals could round out their 40-man roster with and who might be worthy of a springtime minor league deal. Could it come from a Royal Reunion?

Below, I’ve ranked the likelihood of each reunion happening and the likelihood that such a reunion would be a success as low, medium, or high. Be warned that these are graded on a curve—after all, if it was a good enough fit, it probably would have happened already.


Eric Hosmer

  • Likelihood of happening: Low
  • Likelihood of success: Low

Before free agency, Eric Hosmer developed a reputation as a good pure hitter and a reliable defender at first base. But Hosmer was never really a consistent superstar. Now, Hosmer did put together two years as a legit star, and he timed them perfectly. But Hosmer’s bat soured into being merely average in San Diego and further curdled into something unplayable for the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs.

If Vinnie Pasquantino didn’t exist, Hosmer would be a decent acquisition. The Royals would only need to pay him a league minimum salary, as the Padres are still paying out the big bucks. In return, they’d get a solid platoon bat and a veteran leader in the clubhouse.

Fortunately, Vinnie Pasquantino does exist. Hosmer is a first baseman only (I’m still having awful flashbacks from the four games he’s played in right field in his career) and, well, Hosmer has not done well since leaving the Padres.

Whit Merrifield

  • Likelihood of happening: Low
  • Likelihood of success: High

Whit Merrifield debuted in his age-27 season and is going to end up with over 20 career WAR. That’s a hell of a career for anyone, let alone a 269th overall selection in his draft.

Look—Merrifield turns 35 in January. His days of being an above average regular are behind him. But he’s continued to be productive over the last two seasons where, honest to God, he would have been tied for third-most valuable player after Bobby Witt Jr. and Brady Singer with 3 WAR.

Merrifield can still hit; he has a .270 batting average over the last four seasons, which I need to remind you is very good in the modern offensive environment. He doesn’t strike out much. You can put him all over the place defensively. He steals 20 bases a year with good baserunning. No, he’s not going to start, but he’s a great utility player.

However, Merrifield did not leave under the best of terms in 2022, and considering the Royals already went and signed vet utility guy Garrett Hampson, those two factors probably kill a reunion.

Mike Moustakas

  • Likelihood of happening: Low
  • Likelihood of success: Low

Moose! What a great chant. Anyway, Moose has had a very, very weird time in the big leagues. He never got a free agent deal in 2018 and had to come back to Kansas City for half a season. He finally got paid in 2020 only for the pandemic to happen. It took him five seasons to become good and then hit a bunch of home runs.

Could Moustakas be a power hitting bench infielder? I mean, maybe. Cincinnati had him play second base for a couple years and he was decent at it, but I don’t know if you’d want him there as a 35-year-old. Again, Vinnie’s presence makes a Moose reunion unlikely, as does Michael Massey. Also, Moose has just lost the ability to hit dingers, which was his calling card.

Adalberto Mondesi

  • Likelihood of happening: Low
  • Likelihood of success: Somewhere between “grade 2 muscle tear” and “broken hamate”

Adalberto Mondesi’s list of career injures looks rather like a comprehensive list of body parts that human beings can hurt.

Could the Royals bring him back? Theoretically, yes. Should the Royals bring him back? As depth, it wouldn’t hurt. But all of the same reasons why the Royals moved on from Mondesi in the first place are still present: you can’t rely on him to be healthy and he takes a roster spot away from young guys who are healthy and more reliable.

We’ll always have 2018 and 2019. What a lightning in a bottle Mondesi was, and I’m sad that his body betrayed him so.

Zack Greinke

  • Likelihood of happening: High
  • Likelihood of success: High

I’m stretching the definition of “reunion” a bit with Zack, as his most recent team was indeed these Kansas City Royals. But if he keeps signing one-year deals, it’s as good a word as any.

There are a few reasons why Greinke would be a good candidate to bring back. One, Greinke is still building his case for Cooperstown. He’s got a very good resume, but one thing that might put him over the top is a big shiny round number of strikeouts—in Greinke’s case, an even 3000. Greinke is only 21 strikeouts away, meaning that he’d get there in only 31 innings if he continued to throw strikeouts at last year’s rate.

But, more importantly, Greinke is still a serviceable starting pitcher. Steamer projects Greinke for 1.1 WAR, a 4.61 ERA, and a 4.66 FIP next year over 122 innings. Considering he’ll be 40, you’d probably take the under a bit there. Still, that’s a plenty decent fifth starter, and it’s not like he’d be taking innings from anybody who would demand them.

Signing Greinke would also put Jordan Lyles into long relief, which is addition by subtraction if I’ve ever seen it.

Danny Duffy

  • Likelihood of happening: Medium
  • Likelihood of success: Medium

Matt Harvey. Ervin Santana. Wade Davis. Trevor Rosenthal. Homer Bailey. What do these names have in common? They’re all 30-somethings with injury and/or performance baggage that the Royals took fliers on late in their careers.

Danny Duffy could join that group, though the same could have been said for the last few years and it hasn’t happened yet. Duffy last pitched in the big leagues in 2021, but threw 35.2 innings in the Rangers minor league system in 2023 with decent success.

Most 35-year-olds don’t do so hot after multiple years of injury and underperformance. But the bar for Duffy—a left-handed reliever—would be pretty low. Duffy would probably sign a minor league deal, so there’s not much risk, either.

Ironically, Duffy’s “bury me a Royal” quote is still technically accurate, as he hasn’t pitched for another big league team. By signing him on what would probably be his last stop before retirement, the Royals could continue that legacy.

Poll

If you had to choose, who would you bring back to the Royals in 2024?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    Eric Hosmer
    (37 votes)
  • 15%
    Whit Merrifield
    (290 votes)
  • 2%
    Mike Moustakas
    (45 votes)
  • 2%
    Adalberto Mondesi
    (51 votes)
  • 48%
    Zack Greinke
    (932 votes)
  • 28%
    Danny Duffy
    (552 votes)
1907 votes total Vote Now