Reasons why the most recent signing by the KC Royals might have a short tenure.

Despite having an accomplished eight-time All-Star in Salvador Perez and a reliable backup in Freddy Fermin, the KC Royals added another experienced major league catcher to their roster during the offseason. Austin Nola, who previously played for the Mariners and Padres, joined Kansas City as a free agent shortly after the start of spring training.

Although many expected Nola to catch for pitchers Michael Wacha and Seth Lugo, with whom he had previously worked, he was unexpectedly optioned to Triple-A Omaha just days before Opening Day.

Nola made an appearance in manager Mike Jirschele’s Opening Day lineup but landed on the Injured List the following day. With Nola sidelined, the Royals’ Triple-A affiliate, the Storm Chasers, were left with only two catchers, Logan Porter and Kyle Hayes. Porter is the only one with major league experience, while Hayes has limited experience, having played only 36 minor league games and never above Double-A.

In need of additional depth at both the major and minor league levels, the Royals signed Brian O’Keefe to a minor league deal. O’Keefe will join the Storm Chasers in time for their home opener against the Gwinnett Braves.

O’Keefe, who has been a professional player since being drafted by the Cardinals in 2014, has spent the majority of his career in the minors. He had brief stints in the majors with the Mariners in the past two seasons but has struggled at the plate, recording only two hits in 25 at-bats. Throughout his nine minor league seasons, O’Keefe has a batting average of .249, an on-base percentage of .338, and a slugging percentage of .438, with 116 home runs and 415 RBIs.

It remains uncertain how long O’Keefe will remain with the organization, especially with Nola expected to return to the active roster soon. The Royals likely view Nola as their primary backup catcher, leaving little room for players like Hayes and O’Keefe in Omaha once Nola returns.

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