As all of baseball eagerly awaits next weekend’s start of the Winter Meetings, and KC Royals fans wonder what, if any, meaningful deals general manager J.J. Picollo might pull off while he’s there, Kansas City Royals free agents continue to draw scant attention.
That’s not surprising. He had his moments in 2023, especially late in the campaign, but after losing 15 games with a 5.06 ERA, even sure Hall of Famer like Zack Greinke isn’t going to attract tremendous interest. He’s also 40 and hasn’t said whether he’ll return for a 21st big league season.
Brad Keller’s future is also cloudy, but for different reasons. A two-time KC Pitcher of the Year but first-time tester of free agency, Keller hasn’t had a winning season since 2020 and spent much of 2023 on the Injured List with a bad shoulder and signs of thoracic outlet syndrome. Also facing uncertainty is reliever Josh Staumont, who wasn’t a free agent until the club non-tendered him earlier this month.
There’s also Matt Duffy, a serviceable utility type who in 2023 played every infield position for the Royals but doesn’t fit their long-range plans. He’ll find work somewhere, but not on a headline-catching deal.
But those four aren’t Kansas City’s only free agents. Lost in most Hot Stove discussions are five others who put in their latest big league service time with KC but didn’t finish the season with the organization, and who FanGraphs lists as Royal free agents.
Who are they, and should the club explore reunions with any of them?
Relief pitcher Amir Garrett
After joining Kansas City via the March 2022 trade that sent Mike Minor to Cincinnati, Garrett became one of the most interesting members of the KC bullpen. No Royals reliever matched his fire and exuberance on the mound.
But while he wasn’t short on style, Garett lacked control. Never a master of the strike zone, his war with it continued in Kansas City — his 6.35 BB/9 two seasons ago was bad enough, but the 20 walks he issued in 24.1 innings this season (7.40 BB/9) were, despite a tolerable 3.33 ERA, too much for the Royals, and they released him in mid-July. He spent almost three weeks with Cleveland’s Triple-A affiliate in August but didn’t stick.
The Royals shouldn’t have any interest in Garrett and his 5.20 career big league BB/9.
A disappointing former Royal and another reliever are next…