Sources: Royals gives extension to CF Michael Taylor

Center fielder Michael taylor and the Kansas City Royals are agreeing to a two-year, $ 9 million contract extension, sources told ESPN on Wednesday, keeping the center fielder with elite defense in Kansas City as the team’s rebuilding nears its next phase.

Taylor, 30, signed a one-year, $ 1.75 million deal with Kansas City over the winter after being released by the Washington Nationals, with whom he had spent his entire major league career. While Taylor remained an enigmatic offensive player with the Royals, he was firmly placed in the discussion about the best defensive center fielders, and the best period for a defensive player, in baseball.

Publicly available defensive metrics often disagree with players’ defensive contributions. Not with Taylor. He is the top-ranked outfielder in Outs Above Average, Defensive Runs Saved, and Ultimate Zone Rating, the three metrics commonly used to measure defensive performance. Taylor’s UZR is the best of any player regardless of position and his DRS is second.

Taylor’s defensive prowess plays particularly well at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, a wide field and a staff that allow lots of fly balls gave him plenty of opportunities to shine. Teams don’t often lavish big free-agent contracts on outfielders whose main virtue is defense, prompting the parties to reach an agreement before Taylor hit the open market after the World Series.

At 6 feet 4 inches (1.95 meters) and 215 pounds, Taylor has long been seen as an offensive star and will occasionally show immense power and top speed. Difficulties managing the strike zone has limited Taylor to a lifetime line of .239 / .293 / .387, numbers that match almost evenly with his 2021 line of .246 / .300 / .361.

If the Royals’ next wave of prospects is as good offensively as evaluators hope, the Royals will happily take Taylor’s bat, as long as his glove remains elite. With infielder Bobby Witt, first baseman Nick Pratto and wide receiver MJ Meléndez making their debuts in 2022 after combining 108 home runs in the upper echelons of the minor leagues this season, the team’s offense could get a big shake up next year.

Taylor is only the Royals’ third guaranteed money player beyond the 2022 season. The others: Salvador Perez, the franchise receiver that signed an extension until 2025, and the utility Hunter dozier, whose deal runs through 2024. The Royals are also expected to exercise a $ 6.5 million option on utility Whit Merrified and a $ 13 million option on starting pitcher. Mike minor.