According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Royals have checked in on free agent outfielder Torii Hunter as well as Kendrys Morales. Heyman also notes that Hunter has plenty other suitors, including the Rangers, Mariners and Orioles. A reunion with the Twins also cannot be counted out, according to Heyman.
The team likes Hunter’s reputation for being a good guy in the clubhouse as well as a guy who can play right field as well as DH. They were interested in the now 39-year-old seven years ago when he took a five-year, $90 million deal with the Angels. He still has plenty left in the tank offensively after batting .286 with 17 home runs and 83 RBI a year ago.
Morales is an interesting case, as he was one of the game’s more consistent all-around hitters not too long ago. He batted just .218/.274/.338 with eight home runs and 42 RBI in 98 games this season with the Mariners and Twins after rejecting a qualifying offer from Seattle after 2013, when he hit .277 and hit 23 home runs and drove in 80 runs at pitcher friendly Safeco Field. No team picked him up until after this June’s draft, when the Twins signed him on June 8th and then traded him back to Seattle on July 24th. The switch-hitter is an interesting target for Kansas City as they just parted with another primary DH in Billy Butler.
The Royals should have some payroll flexibility to add a free agent or two this offseason with James Shields and Billy Butler coming off the books as they depart via free agency. The team won the American League Pennant in their first trip to the postseason in 29 years in 2014, and they now have expectations to live up to as they look to dethrone the Tigers in the AL Central.