Now that the Kansas City Royals' season has ended, Kauffman Stadium will be put to bed for the winter and the players will go their separate ways.
Now, the front office begins to evaluate talent and prepare for the 2022 season. As the free agent market begins to shape up for the Royals, an additional piece or two may be needed to compete. The Royals finished the season 74-88, which was a fourth-place finish in the AL Central. The majority of the roster will be returning to the lineup in 2022 unless trades occur. One of the areas of need is right field. In 2021, the Kansas City Royals trotted out Whit Merrifield, Jarrod Dyson, Ryan O’Hearn, Hunter Dozier, Kyle Isbel, Jorge Soler, and Edward Olivares in right. There's a pending free agent who could fill the void.
The Big Apple Free Agent
Michael Conforto has spent his entire career playing for the New York Mets. He was drafted in 2014 with a first-round selection (pick No. 10). He played college baseball at Oregon State and signed a one-year, $12,250,000 deal with the Mets in 2020.
Conforto has been a versatile outfielder throughout his entire career, playing all three positions. Let's dissect his fielding a bit more, since this is a key component the Royals value. Conforto's best play has come from playing left field, where he posted 10 DRS but he also has 3 DRS as a right fielder. His UZR is 7.1 as a left fielder and a -2.6 as a right fielder. One of the stats that I enjoy looking at for outfielders is ARM (outfield arm runs above average). According to Fangraphs:
“ Outfielders get credit (plus or minus) depending on what the runners do on a hit or a fly ball out. A runner can stay put, advance, or get thrown out. A fielder will get credit not only if he throws out more than his share of runners, but also if he keeps more than his share of runners from advancing extra bases.”
His ARM as a left fielder is 3.4 and his ARM as a right fielder is 5.2. If Rusty Kuntz potentially returns to help with the outfielders, this could be a major help in Michael Conforto upgrading his defense to another level.
Left-Handed Power Bat
Conforto is an above-average hitter with solid home run potential. He has a career batting average of .255 but to some, that means nothing. His career wRC+ is 124, his wOBA is .352, and his career WAR is 16.9. In 2017, Conforto was an All-Star. Even though 2020 was a shortened season, Conforto had a really good year at the plate and posted some of his best numbers as a hitter. His BABIP was .412, his wOBA was .401 and his wRC+ was 158.
Conforto would be a great addition to the Royals and could sign either a short- or long-term deal. He would be a part of a youth movement that is expected to occur in Kansas City within the next year-plus. Players such as Bobby Witt Jr., MJ Melendez, Nick Pratto, and many others are looking to make their major league debuts soon, and Conforto could play a key role in helping the team compete next year and possibly beyond.