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Hunter Dozier designated for assignment

The Royals cut ties with their former first-round pick.

MLB: JUL 02 Twins at Royals

The Royals have designated Hunter Dozier for assignment to make room for Nicky Lopez, who rejoins the active roster after being out with an appendectomy. Dozier was hitting just .183/.253./305 with two home runs in 91 plate appearances this year. He is owed $7.5 million this year, plus $9.25 million next year with a $1 million buyout for 2025, all of which the Royals are still obligated to pay out.

The former 2013 first-round pick out of Stephen F. Austin has had an up-and-down career with the Royals. He struggled initially in the minors and suffered injuries which delayed his development. He broke through in 2019, his first full season in the big leagues, when he hit .279/.348/.522 with 26 home runs and a league-leading 10 triples. His performance fell off in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season where he hit .228/.344/.392 in 44 games, but that was attributed to the effects of a bout with COVID-19 he suffered that season. Before the 2021 season, he signed a four-year, $25 million deal with the Royals.

Dozier struggled to recapture the hitting performance that justified that deal, batting just .222/.286/.384 with 308 strikeouts in 301 games in the three years after signing the deal. To make matters worse, he was a huge liability on defense. In the last three years combined, he has been worth -4.4 dWAR, tied with Kyle Schwarber for the worst in baseball.

Overall Dozier hit .238/.305/.420 with 73 home runs in 594 games with the Royals. His -2.6 rWAR is third-worst in club history behind only Yuniesky Betancourt, Dee Brown, and Ryan O’Hearn.

The Royals have seven days to trade Dozier or place him on irrevocable outright waivers. The roster move opens up a spot on the 40-man roster.