The Royals are no longer the team they were when they won the World Series in 2015, and they know that. Kansas City will likely gauge interest for some of their remaining trade chips and will take fill out their team with some low risk one year signings.
Current State: Rebuilding
Royals Sign CF Billy Hamilton
After being released by the Reds, Billy Hamilton has signed a one year, $5 million deal with the Royals. The 28-year-old is a very exciting player due to his stellar speed and defense. He’s had above 50 stolen bases and had eight or above defensive runs saved in four of his five seasons. Unfortunately, there’s not much he offers besides it. Hamilton has had an OPS under .650 in every season, and he’s had an on base percentage over .300 just once. His two strengths are also declining, as his defensive runs saved regressed to just 4 and he stole just 34 bases, both career lows. He’s a limited player who is an offensive ability and on the decline, so the rebuilding Royals cannot expect to flip him during the season for anything of value.
Royals Sign UTIL Chris Owings
The Royals have signed utility infielder Chris Owings to a one year, $3 million contract. Owings, 27, had an extremely poor season statistically. He had a negative 0.2 WAR and a .571 OPS, and set career lows in several other stats. That’s a heavy regression from his .268/.299/.442 slash line, but that regression can be expected to last. Owings has constantly had a significantly higher batting average than his expected batting average, so his luck may finally have run out this past season. Either way, Owings has never had an on base percentage over .315 nor is he a power threat, so he’s an extremely limited offensive threat. Still, his ability to play several different positions is extremely valuable. Owings has experience at every outfield position and every infield position besides first base, and is an exceptional defender everywhere besides shortstop. He’s a useful asset for a rebuilding team with a lot of moving parts, as he can fill in anywhere. There were definitely better utility options out there, but Owings definitely came at the cheapest price.
Royals Sign RP Brad Boxberger
The Royals have signed reliever Brad Boxberger to a one year deal worth $2.2 million with another $1 million in incentives. Boxberger, 30, was non-tendered by the Diamondbacks following a rough season with them, in which he posted a 4.39 ERA and a 4.55 FIP. It’s clear to see how the decline happened for the right-hander. Boxberger’s hard contact allowed jumped to 46.6%, his fastball velocity decreased by 1 MPH, and his walk rate spiked (5.4 BB/9). He was awful in the second half, where he posted a 7.00 ERA, and it definitely seemed like he ran out steam. The Royals will likely give Boxberger, who had 32 saves last season, the chance to close for them, but he’s not capable of doing that anymore even for a rebuilding team. If Kansas City is hoping to flip him at the trade deadline or steady their bullpen, they’ll be disappointed by the lackluster results they receive from Boxberger, even though this is a one year deal with little financial commitment.
Royals Sign RP Jake Diekman
To continue to bolster their bullpen, the Royals have signed lefty reliever Jake Diekman to one year deal worth $2.25 million. The contract includes a mutual option for 2020 with a $500K buyout. Diekman, 32, had a rough season between the Rangers and Diamondbacks. He was solid for Texas with a 3.69 ERA, but struggled to the tune of a 7.53 ERA with Arizona. Diekman’s main issue is lack of command, as his walk rate spiked once again in 2018 (5.23 BB/9). He also allowed a lot more hard contact last season (37.4%) than he had in season’s past, though his strikeout rates have remained solid (11.14 K/9). It is intriguing that Diekman’s road ERA was just 1.40 last season, but considering his main issue is with inducing free passes, that seems to be more of a coincidence than anything of actual importance. Kansas City already had two lefties in their bullpen in Brian Flynn and Tim Hill, so the fit is also not great. Like Boxberger, Kansas City seems to be betting on what Diekman could possible become if everything goes his way, not what he actually is. Therefore, while it’s a decent signing, it’s not one that I’m bullish on by any means.
Royals Sign C Martin Maldonado
After losing Salvador Perez for the season with a torn UCL, the Royals have found his replacement for this season, signing catcher Martin Maldonado to a one year deal worth $2.5 million. Maldonado, 32, is an abysmal hitter. With a career OPS of .639 and a career wrc+ of 72, he won’t install any sort of fear for opposing pitchers. Where Maldonado’s value does come from, is his defense. He has 25 drs over the past season and is rated as one of the best all-around defensive catchers. Plus, he’s a veteran leader who knows how to handle a young pitching staff, which will be useful for a rebuilding Royals team that has a lot of pitchers either breaking into the major leagues or trying to build their value. Though Maldonado adds yet another offensive liability to their lineup, the assistance he’ll bring for a rocky pitching staff makes up for it. This is a tremendous fit for the Royals, who are able to replace Perez with a veteran who is as good, if not better, at handling a pitching staff. For just $2.5 million, this should turn out to be a bargain.
*Will Be Updated With Every Move The Royals Make