For more than a year now, fans of the Kansas City Royals have been waiting for the team to make the move they did on Monday. Prior to the team’s game against the Detroit Tigers on Monday evening, the Royals announced that they had designated struggling utility Hunter Dozier for an assignment.
Unfortunately for Dozier, the move has been a long time coming, as his play has significantly tailed off in recent years.
The 31-year-old third baseman still has a year and a half remaining on his four-year, $25 million contract. And he also had a $10 million option for the 2025 season. So unless a team decides to claim Dozier off waivers—which is more than unlikely—the Royals will be on the hook for his remaining salary.
The Royals elected to extend Dozier, the eighth overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft, following the COVID-shortened 2020 season. Dozier, a former highly regarded prospect, finally broke out during the 2019 season when he slashed .279/.348/.522 with a career-high 26 home runs. Unfortunately, he would take a step back, but the Royals rewarded him with an extension.
Since signing the contract extension in 2021, has batted just .222/.286/.384 with a 27.2% strikeout rate in 1134 plate appearances, according to MLB Trade Rumors. The Royals gave him a chance to turn his fortunes around, but he has a career-worst 31.9% strikeout rate in 91 plate appearances through 29 games. On the season, he’s hit just .183/.253/.305 with two home runs, nine RBIs and a career-low .558 OPS.
Major League Baseball fans, particularly those who root for the Royals, reacted to the news of Dozier’s departure on social media:
Hunter Dozier’s last 162 big-league games before getting designated for assignment:
28 doubles, 6 triples, 15 homers
62 runs scored, 54 RBI
43 walks, 160 strikeouts
.230 batting avg
.288 on-base %
.381 slugging %
Royals 63-99 in those games
— High Heat Stats (@HighHeatStats) May 23, 2023
Don’t be mad at Hunter Dozier. Be mad at the organization that can’t identify talent and chooses to pay the wrong people. You can’t be mad at a player for signing a contract, be mad that the team offered that contract.
— sports enjoyer (@iHarveyKU) May 22, 2023
It's a sad day when anyone loses his job, and I truly wish Hunter Dozier the best. Maybe he didn't deserve his contract, but I'd rather he have the money than any billionaire.
Honestly, the Royals handled this fine. He got 91 PA to prove he had something left. That was enough. https://t.co/4itlY7NCYH
— Rany Jazayerli (@jazayerli) May 22, 2023
The Kansas City Royals were 5-20 in games Hunter Dozier started for them this season.
— Tucker D. Franklin (@tuckerdfranklin) May 22, 2023
In any event, it’s an unfortunate end to a career for a player that showed such promise.
[Kansas City Royals, MLB Trade Rumors; photo from Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports]