KANSAS CITY -- The Royals added to their organizational depth and possibly to their designated-hitter competition by acquiring 26-year-old Peter O'Brien from the D-backs on Tuesday for Minor League right-hander Sam Lewis.O'Brien is a catcher-turned-outfielder who projects more as a designated hitter type, which likely is why he was available
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals added to their organizational depth and possibly to their designated-hitter competition by acquiring 26-year-old Peter O'Brien from the D-backs on Tuesday for Minor League right-hander Sam Lewis.
O'Brien is a catcher-turned-outfielder who projects more as a designated hitter type, which likely is why he was available after the D-backs designated him for assignment last month.
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"We've had a chance to see him play," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. "He's got big power potential. We wanted to add position player depth, especially with right-handed power. And this was an opportunity to do that."
Moore indicated the Royals have been interested in O'Brien, who was added to the 40-man roster, for some time and had tried to deal for him previously.
"We expect him to compete [for the DH spot] this spring," Moore said, "just like we expect all our players on the 40-man roster to compete. But we also are looking for depth."
O'Brien, a Florida native and a University of Miami product, collected five home runs in only 64 at-bats for the D-backs last season, but struggled to a .141 average and .570 OPS in 28 games. O'Brien's potential power has caught the eyes of many, however, as he has topped 20 homers in each of his past four Minor League seasons -- including 24 for Triple-A Reno in 2016.
In 236 Triple-A games, O'Brien owns a .270 average with 50 homers, 182 RBIs and an .846 OPS. He was named a "Top Star" in the 2015 Triple-A All-Star Game.
The Royals are expected to utilize a "floating" DH this season after Kendrys Morales signed a two-year deal with the Blue Jays in November. Cheslor Cuthbert, who filled in at third base for the injured Mike Moustakas, could be the primary DH with other at-bats going to other position players who would need a half-day off.
Because Cuthbert is out of options, DH could be his only avenue to a spot on the 25-man roster.
In trading Lewis, the Royals gave up a 25-year old right-hander who combined to go 3-1 with a 2.17 ERA and a save in 19 appearances between three Minor League stops last season. Lewis, who pitched at Indiana Wesleyan University, missed the 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. In 48 career Minor League appearances, Lewis is 13-6 with a career 3.15 ERA and five saves.
Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.