Royals ink former division foe Franmil to Minors deal

February 16th, 2023

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Royals have added a former foe and major power bat to their Spring Training roster.

Former Guardians slugger Franmil Reyes and the Royals agreed on a Minor League contract with an invite to big league camp on Wednesday, and Reyes will join position players in Arizona by the time full squad workouts start next week.

The deal has an opt-out at the end of the spring, a source told; if Reyes doesn’t make the team, he can sign anywhere else.

Still only 27 years old and under control for two years if he sticks on a big league roster, Reyes struggled in 2022 with the Guardians and Cubs but has had two 30-plus-homer seasons in his career. He mashed 37 dingers in 2019 in stops with San Diego and Cleveland and then hit 30 homers in ’21 for the Guardians with a career-best .846 OPS and 126 wRC+.

The Royals are hoping to unlock that massive right-handed power again with a low-risk deal. Reyes ranked 22nd in baseball with an average 92 mph exit velocity, and he was in the 85th percentile in max exit velocity, 79th percentile in hard-hit percentage and 80th percentile in barrel percentage.

The red on his Statcast player page is contrasted by a lot of blue, however. Reyes’ 30.7% strikeout rate since 2019 is the seventh highest in baseball. He walked just 30 times in 2022 compared to 157 strikeouts. The Guardians placed him on waivers in August after a slow start, and he finished the year with a .689 OPS in 48 games with the Cubs.

Reyes will compete for a roster spot and playing time as the designated hitter. The Royals’ successful hitting program emphasizes a hitter’s approach to unlock production, so there’s optimism that Reyes could improve this spring and give Kansas City a power bat to protect some of the young talent in the lineup.

Royals win arbitration case against Singer
The Royals won their arbitration hearing against right-hander on Wednesday after the two sides presented their cases in person in front of an arbiter on Tuesday. Singer will make $2.95 million in his first year of being arbitration-eligible instead of the $3.325 million he filed for last month.

Singer, 26, is one of the Royals' best young starters heading into the new season following a breakout in 2022, when he went 10-5 with a 3.23 ERA across 27 games (24 starts).

The Royals are interested in signing Singer to a long-term contract, per sources, and will likely explore one more diligently after this season. The reason the club went to a hearing with Singer is not because of any ill will between the two sides, but because they were not able to come to an agreement before the Jan. 14 deadline of exchanging salary figures for arbitration-eligible players. For many teams, including the Royals, that day typically acts as a deadline to sign players or cease negotiations ahead of the hearing.

Singer, who will compete for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic next month, will be back in Royals camp on Thursday; he's scheduled to throw a bullpen along with several other pitchers.