The Royals announced Tuesday that they’ve agreed to a one-year deal with infielder Adalberto Mondesi, thus avoiding arbitration. Lynn Worthy of the Kansas City Star reports that Mondesi will be paid $3.045MM in 2023.
Once viewed as one of the game’s top prospects and a potential foundational piece in Kansas City, Mondesi has instead become a perennially tantalizing talent who can’t stay healthy enough to capitalize on his prodigious tool set. The now-27-year-old Mondesi turned heads back in 2018, when in just 75 games and 291 plate appearances, he turned in a .276/.306/.498 slash with 14 home runs and 32 steals. He connected on nine homers and swiped 43 bags in just 102 games the following season.
In fact, that 102-game showing in 2019 marks a career-high. Those 2018 and 2019 seasons are the only times that Mondesi has appeared in even 60 games in a year, showing extreme concern for an organization hell bent on rebuilding.
Mondesi has appeared in just 50 games over the past two seasons due to a pair of oblique strains, a hamstring strain and, most notably, a torn ACL he suffered after just 15 games in 2022. Mondesi also suffered a pair of subluxations in his left shoulder during the 2019 season and ultimately required surgery to address the issue. In addition, he’s spent time on the injured list due to an impingement in his other shoulder and to back and groin strains.
The list of injuries for Mondesi has piled up a lot. Mondesi, who made his MLB debut as a 20-year-old back in 2016, has played in just 358 Major League games in his career.
Despite the lack of games played, Mondesi has spent so much time on the Major League injured list that many will be surprised to read he’s in his final season of club control. With five years of service time under his belt, he’s on pace to reach free agency as a 28-year-old next winter. And time is running out for him to prove he is more than just a liability.
Mondesi’s role with the 2023 Royals figures to be somewhat up in the air, given the defensive excellence of Nicky Lopez and the emergence of top prospect Bobby Witt Jr., but in reality, it’ll be up to new head of baseball ops J.J. Picollo and new manager Matt Quatraro to determine their preferred alignment between now and Opening Day.
First and foremost, the Royals will focus on getting Mondesi healthy and keeping him healthy enough to play in a meaningful number of games for the them next season. Michael Massey, Nate Eaton, Samad Taylor and Maikel Garcia are all infield alternatives on the 40-man roster, should the Royals need to account for an injury to Mondesi or another infielder.
With new management in Kansas City, the leash is getting shorter for Mondesi. He has the talent, but it’s just a matter of being healthy enough to showcase it.