Kansas City Royals agree with Adalberto Mondesi, five others to avoid arbitration

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Royals have agreed to a $3 million contract with shortstop Adalberto Mondesi and five other players for the upcoming season, avoiding arbitration before Tuesday's deadline for teams and players to submit numbers.

The Royals also agreed to terms with right-hander Brad Keller on a $4.825 million contract, reliever Scott Barlow on a $2.4 million deal, newly acquired pitcher Amir Garrett for $2.025 million, first baseman Ryan O'Hearn at $1.3 million and backup catcher Cam Gallagher for $885,000.

The Royals only have outfielder Andrew Benintendi and second baseman Nicky Lopez, both of whom are expected to be part of their Opening Day lineup, among their unsigned arbitration-eligible players.

The 26-year-old Mondesi has been dynamic when he's been healthy, leading the league with 24 stolen bases during the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season. But he has only played more than 100 games once in six seasons, and he hit just .230 with six homers and 15 steals while limited to 35 games by injuries last season.

Mondesi, who made $2.52 million last year and is eligible for free agency after the 2023 season, spent much of this past offseason working with new trainers in the Dominican Republic in an effort to stay healthy. The culprits last season were his obliques and hamstring, but he's also had quad and shoulder injuries over the years.

"I changed a lot of things, different trainer -- just focused on the things I need to focus on and I feel good right now and see what's going to happen," Mondesi said during the first week of spring training in Surprise, Arizona.

"We started with my body," he explained, "seeing what's going to work for me or not and go from there. They ask how I feel, what I feel and I just let him know, and we make a program and follow that."

Mondesi also has played second base and third base during his career, and his move to third could become a permanent one if the Royals break camp with top prospect Bobby Witt Jr. at shortstop. Witt also has played third base in the minors, but it is likely the Royals would try to keep him at his most comfortable position as he begins his big league career.

Together, Mondesi and Witt could give Kansas City one of the best left sides of the infield in the American League.

"Whatever they want me to do, I'm OK. I just want to play and I want to feel good and help the team win," Mondesi said.