KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Royals have agreed to terms with first-baseman Hunter Dozier and outfielder Jorge Soler, but they’re parting ways with third-baseman Maikel Franco and outfielder Bubba Starling.
The news comes as part of a series of roster management announced Wednesday during the Royals’ offseason.
The team said it has non-tendered Starling, who made the Royals’ Opening Day roster for the first time in 2020 and played in 35 games. The 28-year-old grad from Gardner-Edgerton High School was the Royals’ first-round pick in the 2011 draft.
But despite flashing a solid glove, the hometown kid never developed the bat to match it. He hit just .169 with one homer and five RBIs while spending two stints on the injured list last season.
The Royals also announced they have non-tendered, or not formally offered contracts to, infielders Maikel Franco, Jeison Guzman and Erick Mejia and pitchers Foster Griffin and Carlos Sanabria.
Franco was signed a $2.95 million, one-year contract before the 2020 season. He started in all 60 games in 2020, tied for third in the league with 16 doubles and led the Royals with 38 RBIs.
The Royals still have two players who are eligible for arbitration that remain unsigned: shortstop Adalberto Mondesi and pitcher Brad Keller.
Two new contracts
Meanwhile, two Royals stars are sticking around for at least one more year.
The team has struck a $2.72 million, one-year deal, plus incentives, with Dozier, according to multiple MLB insiders. The Royals have also signed power-hitter Soler to a one-year contract reportedly worth $8.05 million, reports say.
Dozier missed the first 16 games to injury but still ranked third among Royals with 29 runs.
His defensive versatility is also important. Dozier can play both corner outfield spots along with first base and third base, and the likely departure of Franco means he could be headed to a more permanent role in the infield.
Soler fits a crucial role in the Royals lineup by providing a big bat in an otherwise hit-and-run offense. He tied for third among Royals with eight home runs in 2020, including five in his first 16 games.
The Royals also signed Soler to a one-year deal last year worth $7.3 million, according to reports. That contract came after he broke Mike Moustakas’ franchise home run record with 48 and also tied for second in the American League for RBI’s with 117.
Other Royals moves
On Monday, left-hander Mike Minor and the Royals signed an $18 million, two-year deal, reuniting the 32-year-old starter with the club that helped him revive his career.
“We know we needed to add a starter to our young rotation,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said.
“We feel like Mikey gives us a lot of stability, a lot of focus. Somebody who has been successful, can provide us innings, and so it’s just a really, really good fit for us, and we’re grateful that he’s once again going to be a Kansas City Royal.”
The 32-year-old Minor split 2020 between the Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics, going 1-6 with a 5.56 ERA and diminished velocity after posting the best numbers of his career a year earlier. In 2019, he was 14-10 with a 3.59 ERA and struck out 200 batters for the first time in his career.
A first round pick by Atlanta in 2009, Minor spent five seasons in the Braves’ rotation before a torn labrum in his left shoulder kept him out of the majors for two years.
The Royals signed Minor to a two-year deal following surgery, allowing him to spend 2016 rehabbing before using him successfully as a reliever in 2017.
“Of course we have a history with Mikey,” Moore said. “A history and a relationship we felt was important. We have a special history with Mike, and he has great trust in our medical people, our coaching staff.”
The Royals have also added former Washington Nationals outfielder Michael Taylor on a $1.75 million contract.
Kansas City also agreed to one-year deals with right-handers Jesse Hahn ($1.75 million) and Jakob Junis ($1.7 million) and outfielder Franchy Cordero ($800,000) that avoided arbitration.
The roster moves left the Royals with 36 players on their active roster, and Moore said this week that the Royals could be a bit more active than in years past trying to plug their remaining holes.
They are still in search of an impact bat, particularly in the outfielder, where Dozier could be moving to the infield and Alex Gordon has faded into retirement.
“Look, opening day is several months away. “You’re constantly making adjustments to your roster,” Moore said, “not only throughout the offseason but also spring training, once the season begins. We’re going to continue to stay open minded.”