Matt Beaty wouldn’t go so far as to say he was “returning” to the Royals when he signed a Minor League deal with an invite to Spring Training with the club this offseason. But he did emphasize how excited he was to get to work in the organization he could have started his career with more than a decade ago.
The Royals drafted Beaty in the 48th round of the 2011 MLB Draft out of Dresden (Tenn.) High School and brought him to Kauffman Stadium shortly afterward to see if they could get him to sign. There, he met Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Alex Gordon, all beginning their rise to prominence with Kansas City.
“It was cool to be able to meet them at that time, then to see what they did in the coming years,” Beaty said. “And it just seemed like a good organization to be a part of.”
Beaty ended up attending Belmont University in Nashville, and he was drafted by the Dodgers in the 12th round of the 2015 Draft. He made his MLB debut in '19 and spent three years with Los Angeles, winning a World Series in '20. Through all of that, he never forgot about the Royals and kept in contact with area scout Sean Gibbs.
This offseason, Beaty was coming off an injury-riddled and unproductive year with the Padres. The corner infielder and outfielder played just 20 big league games and was 4-for-43 with San Diego, fighting through shoulder trouble all season. That led him to sign a deal with the Royals for the opportunity to make the team as a left-handed bat off the bench who can play right field, left field, first base and third base.
Kansas City doesn't necessarily have a need at any of those positions -- although third base will be an open competition in the spring -- but signing Beaty was a depth move to bring a veteran into the fold.
“When you look at the team, there’s a bunch of young prospects,” Beaty said. “It’s a very talented bunch. It’s exciting to come in and hopefully be a part of it. Hopefully I can bring some of what I learned in my three years with the Dodgers, on those championship teams. It’s exciting to hopefully be a part of that new wave, that new group.”
Beaty’s offseason has been focused on getting healthy, going to physical therapy and his chiropractor to make sure his shoulder doesn’t hold him back like it did last year. He feels he's made it back to normal, and now he has been working on regaining the form that saw him hit .262/.333/.425 in three years with the Dodgers.
The 29-year-old has been working out at Spooner Sports Institute in Tempe, Ariz., and he's also worked on his defensive versatility to maximize the roles he could play for the Royals in 2023. Beaty is familiar with the Royals' hitting coaches, too. Assistant hitting coach Keoni DeRenne was Beaty’s hitting coach in the Arizona Fall League in '17, and hitting coordinator Drew Saylor was Beaty’s manager at Single-A Rancho Cucamonga, a Dodgers affiliate.
“He was a player’s coach,” Beaty said. “I loved working with him.”
Perhaps working with the Royals’ hitting department could unlock some things in Beaty’s swing, too.
“I’m just wanting to come in and prove that I’m a big leaguer still,” Beaty said. “It’s always been that I have to earn a spot; that’s how it was with the Dodgers with the stacked teams they’ve had there. It’s still the same thing here even though I’m not on the roster going into it. And I’m excited for another opportunity, whatever role that may be.”