“Reporter Jottings”: Singer and Royals Exchange Figures; More Greinke Rumors; Gary Sanchez Coming to KC?

The NFL Playoff season is in full swing, which means baseball season is quickly approaching. For baseball fans like myself who love Major League baseball first and foremost (and really don’t care much at all for the NFL or football in general), it cannot start soon enough, especially Kansas City Royals baseball.

I do not have a major article today with the long weekend, but there were some Royals “newsworthy” items that took place over the end of last week and weekend.

And thus, I take a look at a few items in this edition of the “Jottings”, which includes Brady Singer’s arbitration process, the latest Zack Greinke rumors, and a look at a possible backup catching option for 2023.


Singer and Royals Unable to Come to An Agreement Just Yet

On Saturday, the Royals announced on Twitter with who they had come to agreements prior to the arbitration-filing exchange deadline. As typical for the Royals, they were able to come to agreements with a majority of their arbitration-eligible players:

Unfortunately, one name not on that list is Brady Singer, the former 2018 first-round pick who had a breakout season on the mound for the Royals last year.

In 27 games (and 24 starts), Singer pitched 153.1 innings, totaled 10 wins, and posted a 3.23 and 2.9 fWAR, according to Fangraphs. Singer demonstrated a lot of growth from an underwhelming 2021 campaign, in which he produced a 4.91 ERA and 2.0 fWAR in 27 starts and 128.1 IP that season.

Based on those much different campaigns, it is not a surprise that the Royals and Singer had a tough time coming to an agreement prior to the deadline.

On the Royals’ end, it’s hard to gauge whether 2022 is a sign that he is becoming the Royals’ ace, or if it is just a “flash in the pan”. The Royals and Nicky Lopez were in the same boat prior to the 2022 season, and they ended up going to a hearing (the Royals ended up winning).

Lopez ended up struggling in 2022, and he quickly came to an agreement this offseason to avoid arbitration as a result.

Right now, it seems like the two parties are a few hundred-thousand dollars apart:

As expected, many Royals fans aren’t too happy with the Royals and Singer being unable to come to an agreement, especially since it’s under half a million. That being said, I do not think it’s necessarily a sign that there is tension in the Royals camp with Singer. It’s totally plausible that Singer and JJ Picollo are in the midst of agreeing to an extension, but were unable to come up with a set number prior to the deadline.

In her latest newsletter, MLB.com Royals beat writer Anne Rogers predicted that Singer or Vinnie Pasquantino were the strongest candidates for an extension prior to the start of the 2022 season. Considering the delay in Singer’s contract process, it could make sense that a possible Singer extension announcement could be looming soon.

Or at least that’s what I would like to hope as a Royals fan.


Greinke and Royals Still at Odds

The “hot stove” season roughly has about a month left before pitchers and catchers report, and one of the more “high profile” free agent pitchers remaining is Zack Greinke. Even though the Royals and the 39-year-old pitcher haven’t been able to come to an agreement, it still seems like his most sensible destination is Kansas City for the upcoming 2023 season.

Jon Becker of Roster Resource recently changed his prediction for Greinke from San Diego to Kansas City, a sign that perhaps the Royals are the only serious suitors for Greinke’s services for the upcoming season.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic in his latest piece remarked that the Royals and Greinke are still in talks. However, they are in a deadlock due to each side not being willing to budge on the monetary number for a possible deal, according to a Royals source.

According to Rosenthal’s Royals source, the Royals want a deal that has a lower base salary, but is laced with incentives, just as insurance, should Greinke continue to regress after throwing his fewest innings in a non-Covid season since 2007, according to Fangraphs.

Additionally, Greinke posted a career low in K/9 (4.80) and sported his highest xFIP (4.54) since his sophomore year in 2005 (when it was 4.66). Hence, it’s not a surprise that the Royals also signed Jordan Lyles, but Greinke’s questionable season also explains why they are holding a firm stance on the dollar amount for a possible Greinke return in 2023.

On the flip side, Greinke is seeing the market for starting pitchers, and understandably, he wants to be paid what he believes he is worth. Unfortunately for him though, it appears that no other clubs have really emerged as serious suitors, and the Royals are still keeping the door open with Greinke, simply because of who he is and what he has done for the Royals over the course of his career.

It’s a tough dilemma for sure.

On one hand, Greinke does give the Royals rotation some insurance, especially if Ryan Yarbrough ends up in the bullpen as a swingman. However, the Royals are at a crossroads with some of their young pitchers, especially Daniel Lynch, Kris Bubic, Jackson Kowar, and Jon Heasley, and taking away a possible spot in the rotation and delaying their progress for another year feels like a questionable decision, especially for a club that is a longshot to make the postseason this year.

If anything, the Royals need to know what they have in the long-term in Lynch, Bubic, Kowar, and Heasley (it seems likely that Brad Keller is destined for the bullpen). They need to pitch innings in order for Picollo and the Royals to evaluate which ones are worth keeping, and which ones may be worth parting ways with (via trade or DFA).

A rotation with Greinke, Yarbrough and Lyles commanding three spots makes it harder for one of those four to get a chance to prove that they are long-term rotation options in Kansas City unless manager Matt Quatraro is willing to do something creative (i.e. a six-man rotation).


Could Sanchez Back Up Salvy in 2023?

In an interesting segment on MLB Network with Matt Vasgersian, MLB insider Jon Morosi mentioned the Royals as a possible landing spot for free agent catcher Gary Sanchez, who played for the Minnesota Twins last season.

Sanchez is an interesting possibility, especially when one looks at his Statcast data via Savant. Here’s a look at his percentiles from a year ago, and there’s a healthy mix of red and blue in this image:

Sanchez struggled last season with strikeouts and whiffs, which has dogged him since his Yankees days. However, his power and batted ball ability still remain legitimate, as he ranked in the 92nd percentile in hard-hit rate, and 97th percentile in max exit velocity. In terms of traditional numbers, he hit 16 home runs and drove in 61 RBI in 471 plate appearances, which made up for his .205 batting average with the Twins last year.

Another interesting development was Sanchez’s improvement in framing last year, as he ranked in the 50th percentile with the Twins in 2022. In terms of catcher framing runs, his +1 mark doesn’t seem impressive at the surface level, but it was far better than the marks he generated in 2021 (-6), 2020 (-2), and 2019 (-6) with the Yankees.

Last year, Salvy ranked in the bottom 6th percentile in framing, and was eight runs below average on a catcher framing runs end in 2022. It’s possible that Freddy Fermin could be a much better framing catcher than Salvy, but there isn’t any hard data for that, unfortunately.

As for MJ Melendez? Well, he ranked in the bottom first percentile, according to Savant, and was 12 runs below average in terms of catcher framing runs.

I am not sure if there is much weight behind the “Sanchez to KC” rumors, especially since I think he will get an MLB deal from some team shortly before pitchers and catchers report.

However, the fact that the Royals are being mentioned means that they may be looking for a backup catcher on perhaps a Minor League deal.

In addition, these rumors may also mean that the Royals are planning to have Melendez transition to the outfield full-time in 2023 (something I thought would be better for him anyways in the long term).

Photo Credit: David Berding/Getty Images

3 thoughts on ““Reporter Jottings”: Singer and Royals Exchange Figures; More Greinke Rumors; Gary Sanchez Coming to KC?

  1. While he has room to improve, I still like the idea of Melendez in left field. And we do have Fermin waiting in the wings as a catcher, and he does have at least some Major League experience due to the vax situation in Toronto. Signing Sanchez to a one-year deal might be advantageous, at least until the trade deadline, depending on how the Royals are performing at that juncture. But I have a feeling the Royals aren’t going to do that, but I certainly wouldn’t be averse if they did.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am not averse to Sanchez either and think it could be a good pickup who could be flipped at the Deadline. My big concern is if he would be a good “complement” to Salvy. I think having a strong framing catcher would be the bigger priority, especially since that is not a strength of Salvy’s. Sanchez showed some gains in this area last year, but historically, he hasn’t been great.

      Earlier this offseason, I was more convinced that the Royals would acquire a backup C, but after a strong Winter from Fermin, I think they may see what Fermin does this Spring. But I agree with you, I would rather have MJ in LF full-time so he can get better at that position rather than going back and forth.

      Like

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