Monday, December 31, 2012

Royals add to Outfield "Depth"

The Kansas City Royals added another piece to the Omaha Storm Chasers outfield today when they announced the signing of former Royal great Endy Chavez to a Minor League deal.

Chavez has played in 974 games at the Major League level. Over that time he has hit .269/.286/.333 but has received enormous praise for his glove work. In fact, Chavez may lay claim to the greatest catch in MLB postseason history. If you don't remember it, you can view it here.

Just a few days ago, I wrote a few paragraphs regarding the type of outfielder the Royals could target to complement Jeff Francoeur. I talked about a left handed hitter, or at least a guy that could eventually partner in platoon and also a guy that was very good defensively, so that if he didn't hit, he could at least offer some upgrade in the form of his glove. On the surface it appears that the left handed Endy Chavez fits that exact mold. However, a closer examination would reveal that Chavez isn't quite the answer that one might have hoped.

While Endy Chavez was an absolute stud defensively for a four year period from 2006-09, his defense has sunk to just slightly above average over the past couple of seasons. Also, despite being left handed, Chavez has never displayed much in the way of a platoon advantage and his .676 career OPS against right handers is almost identical to the .675 he posts against southpaws.

Ultimately, the signing was just a Minor League deal and you will never hear me criticize a Minor League free agent signing. There is no point. The risk is so insignificant that there isn't any reason for people to be critical of these types of additions. My only point, is that Chavez doesn't fill the role that I have been advocating the Royals to attempt to fill. This doesn't mean I don't like the addition from a depth standpoint, merely that I believe Kansas City should continue to search for a lefty outfielder that could complement Frenchy on the Major League roster. I do not think Chavez is that guy.

As of now, the Royals are likely out on any other Minor League additions in the outfield department. They already have Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Francoeur and Jarrod Dyson for the Major League roster, David Lough fighting for the 5th outfield spot and Xavier Nady, Willy Taveras, and now Chavez on Minor League deals. Basically as of now they have nine players between the outfields of Kansas City and Omaha. The Royals don't necessarily need to, but I still believe it makes sense to add one more outfielder on a Major League deal for 2013, if the right player presents himself. With Cain's injury history, Francoeur's poor performance, and some question marks that still surround Dyson, depth could be extremely important.

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