Per Jeff Passan of ESPN, the Kansas City Royals and outfielder Michael A. Taylor are agreeing to a two-year, $9 million contract extension. Taylor signed with the Royals this past offseason and has been arguably the best defensive center fielder in all of baseball. The Inside The Royals crew has gathered to give our thoughts on the newest piece of news surrounding the organization.
Jordan Foote: A lot of how people react to this move in the long run will be determined by how the Royals construct their roster outside of Taylor. If the team has seven or eight viable bats in the lineup, it can afford to eat whatever production is lost by putting Taylor in the batter's box because his defense is so good. If there are other holes in the lineup, though, having a below-average bat like Taylor's will become a glaring issue. A $4.5M annual salary for the next two seasons is far from a bank-breaker, which doesn't exclude the possibility of another move being on the horizon (albeit . . . that's unlikely). In a vacuum, this is a solid move by the Royals for a great defender and an even better person.
Christopher Tenpenny: Extending Michael A. Taylor is a very smart move for the Royals. Paying arguably the best defensive centerfielder in baseball $4.5M per year is great value, especially once you consider how valuable outfield defense is at Kauffman Stadium. Also, when you look at the other options, there’s no better-known commodity than him. Kyle Isbel can play center in a pinch but looks to be more of a corner outfielder. Adalberto Mondesi is athletic enough, but do you want an injury-prone player to change to another high-profile position?
The two Martes (Starling and Ketel) may be available via trade or free agency, but neither is an overly good defender and both would cost the Royals significantly more than Taylor. While Taylor’s bat may be well below average, his defense more than makes up for it. He also has a history of being clutch in the playoffs and there’s always room for guys like that.
Tyler Dierking: I appreciate what Michael A. Taylor brought to the Royals, especially defensively, but a two-year/$9M extension makes little sense to me. I understand that he’s elite defensively, however, he isn’t someone I would say needs to be playing every day because of his offense. This move potentially pushes Kyle Isbel to right field, or a 4th outfielder, which in my opinion is the wrong move. While $9M doesn’t break the bank, I feel like that could have been spent somewhere else and the need for a center fielder could have been addressed in-house or via trade.
Lucas Murphy: As the great Tyler Dierking said, “I appreciate what Michael A. Taylor brought to the Royals, especially defensively.” I agree 100%. With that said, it was time to move on and this feels like one of those moves that clogs the way for someone else. The Royals need to score runs. This is a typical Dayton Moore signing. If I could display an emoji, it would be a trash can because that is how I feel about this move.
Jerry Edwards: Whit Merrifield is going to see his contract value decrease next year, so the Royals have essentially invested that money into an outfielder that can rival the likes of Kevin Kiermaier with the glove but whose bat raises the question of him being an everyday player. If Kansas City ever gets the 2017 version of Taylor, the deal will be more than worth it. If they don’t, it’s a simple placeholder move that only ties them up for two years. R.I.P. to the Starling Marte to the Royals pipe dream.
Danielle Sachse: Michael A. Taylor has proven to be one of the best gloves on the field in 2021 for the Royals. That doesn't say a lot, but I guess his above-average glove and below-average bat must be enough in the eyes of the managerial staff to re-sign him not for one, but two more years. I have viewed MAT as a quiet, almost forgettable player this entire season. A two-year deal tells me a few things — the Royals trust him, they don't plan on going out to find a big-name outfielder, and the Royals' minor-league outfielders aren't sitting in the on-deck circle . . . yet. With a new core of potential infielders and pitchers hopefully making their debut in 2022, I hope MAT brings a sense of leadership to the team and continues to increase his performance.
Mark Van Sickle: Michael A Taylor is a good guy to have in the clubhouse and has flashed a masterful defensive glove in center field this season. Those have been key attributes for a player to have for many of Dayton Moore’s signings in the past, and it looks like JJ Picollo will follow suit. If the next core brings their power bats to the big league level as advertised, and if Hunter Dozier can be more like second half 2021 Dozier moving forward, this signing makes a lot of sense. Still, plenty of questions about the future, but it seems like the deal gives Taylor the opportunity to be a part of the transition to the next era of Royals baseball — whatever that becomes.
Sam Hays: This is quite the move for the Royals. Taylor ranks as the top defensive center fielder in baseball by FanGraphs, both in Defensive Runs Saved and Wins Above Replacement, but he is also among the worst offensive center fielders in baseball. For $4.5 million AAV, the 14th highest among center fielders, that feels about right for him. Solid deal, you just have to hope that the bat can improve in that time.
Jacob Milham: Michael A. Taylor keeps his top-tier defense in Kansas City on another team-friendly deal. While Taylor certainly does now make his money at the plate, his glove is amongst the best in the American League. This does create a conundrum for the outfield situation, but this move provides some certainty beyond 2022. It is also showing that the organization is looking into 2023 for serious contention. Taylor may never bat higher than .260, but his glove more than makes up for it. Look for this to end talks of Adalberto Mondesi moving to outfield as well.