For years the Royals were unwilling to give Kila Ka’aihue an extended chance in the majors despite his strong minor-league production and then when they finally stuck him in the lineup he hit .216 in 52 games last season and .195 in 23 games this year.
That’s hardly enough playing time to prove Ka’aihue can’t hit in the majors, but career minor leaguers usually can’t afford not to thrive right away and today the Royals designated the 27-year-old first baseman for assignment after keeping him at Triple-A since early May.
Ka’aihue hit .272 with an .812 OPS in 95 games at Triple-A, which gives him a .281 batting average and .910 OPS in 353 career games there, but after 10 years in the Royals’ farm system the former 15th-round pick is running out of time to stick in the majors.
Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.
That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.
Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.