The Kansas City Royals continued their offseason shopping spree with a minor move yesterday, picking up free-agent outfielder/first baseman Xavier Nady on a minor league deal. The signing was reported by MLB.com’s Dick Kaegel.
Bringing in Nady may not be a move of the same magnitude as the team's trade for pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis, but acquiring the right-handed-hitting veteran could be a valuable move.
Nady has played for eight different teams in an 11-year major league career. The 34-year-old has career totals of a .270 batting average with 101 home runs and 406 RBI. His best individual season came in 2008, when he hit .305 with 25 home runs and 97 RBI with the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Yankees.
Injuries have sidetracked Nady in recent seasons.
He has averaged just 67 games per season since 2009. That year he underwent his second Tommy John surgery (his first was in 2001) and has been unable to fully regain his health or effectiveness since.
According to Kaegel, Royals’ assistant GM J.J. Picollo said he isn't going to just hand Nady a job, but likes what he can potentially bring to the team:
It gives us depth going into spring training if we have any type of injuries or need. He's a guy that in the past has swung the bat well, but he's fallen on some hard times with some injuries or whatnot, but we thought it was an interesting guy to bring in and add a veteran presence and insurance.
The Royals must have insurance at first base and the corner outfield spots because of lingering concerns from last season. According to FanGraphs.com, right fielder Jeff Francoeur (-1.2) and first baseman Eric Hosmer (-1.1) posted baseball’s third and fourth worst oWAR marks in 2012. Those two may very well bounce back, but if the Royals intend to make a playoff run, they have to be prepared for any scenario.
For now, it sounds like Nady can earn a bench spot on the team by having a hot spring.
Picollo told Kaegel that his power is something that could fit in well on the team’s bench:
He's right-handed which we lack a little bit. If he has a good spring training, it's not out of the question we'll have a veteran bat on the bench. He's got some pop, which is something we don't have right now coming off the bench.
With every move the Royals make this offseason, they hope to get closer to contending status. If Nady can prove he is healthy and has something left, it could be a valuable addition for Kansas City and a win-win deal for everyone involved.
Statistics via BaseballReference