Are the Royals REALLY interested in Brett Lawrie?

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According to ESPN Analyst Jim Bowden, the Royals are one of a handful of teams to express interest in free agent second baseman Brett Lawrie.

Royals fans most notably remember Lawrie from his brush with the team in 2015 when he slid hard into second base and took out Alcides Escobar. Yordano Ventura then retaliated the next day by drilling Lawrie with a fastball. Lawrie then went on to criticize the Royals players and fans alike following the incident, galvanizing him as a villain in the eyes of Kansas City forever.

This is of particular note if for no other reason than the Royals have had more of a personal reason to dislike Brett Lawrie than of the typical “bad apple” types discussed as possibilities to fill holes in the past. Kansas City fans genuinely dislike the guy.

Which is why this news seems particularly strange given that the Royals front office has seemingly been very keen on building a team around chemistry and clubhouse character. They have made it a point to make it about the team instead of about the individual. This has been executed to such precise detail that even the fans have felt its reverberating effects not only in the stadium, but throughout the community. These guys are just plain likeable.

So what gives? Why would the Royals be giving serious consideration to bringing in a guy that has already been in 4 organizations at the ripe ‘ole age of 26. A player so loved that the White Sox do not see the need to pay him a modest $3.5 million for his 2017 salary?

It would seem the answer lies more in the needs to fill a story with intrigue than any actual substance. Much like when the Royals were supposedly interested in Jeff Samardzija, the solution to sports outlets making a story is more about “who has a need” than if the subject matter fits.

If I had to guess, the Brett Lawrie story comes down to one thing. The Royals currently are looking at four options at second base (really, it’s three) and none of them really look like a sure thing. The battle between long shot Cheslor Cuthbert, long time utility infielder Christian Colon, an unknown Whit Merrifield and a “too green to yet be anointed” Raul Mondesi Jr represent an opening. They are not locked in.

Second base openings in MLB? Media outlets everywhere check mark the Kansas City Royals.

So when a second baseman finds himself on the open market, that means ESPN is going to to look for logical landing places….even when it isn’t actually logical. After all, we have all clicked the stories, and at the end of the day that is all that matters to those that wrote them.

Lawrie is a career .261/.315/.419 hitter and has managed to be worth at least 1.3 bWAR for every season he has played. On the outside, there is obvious reason to give a player of his age and ability a good long look. He will undoubtedly be a young valuable piece somewhere…..just probably not in Kansas City.

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