Sep 29, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Jason Vargas (60) throws a pitch in the first inning of the game against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Grading the Royals Offseason Thus Far

Oct 4, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Detroit Tigers second baseman Omar Infante (4) hits a single against the Oakland Athletics during the sixth inning in game one of the American League divisional series playoff baseball game at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Royals came into the offseason with several needs. Bruce Chen and Ervin Santana were free agents, and second base had been a black hole of offensive ineptitude prior to the arrival of Emilio Bonifacio. Yet, Bonifacio is more of a utility player, leaving the Royals potentially in need of an every day second baseman. Oh, and a power bat for the middle of the lineup would be nice as well.

Thus far, the Royals have taken care of a few of these holes. While there is still work that needs to be done with the roster, the offseason has been off to a promising start. Even though they were unable to lure Carlos Beltran back, they have still made the types of moves they needed.

First, they signed Jason Vargas to a four year, $32 Million contract. While the fourth year may be a bit much, that contract has looked even better seeing some of the deals signed by similar pitchers in free agency. Vargas, at this point, appears to be more of a replacement for Bruce Chen, giving the Royals a solid fourth starter heading into next season.

Next, they solved their leadoff issues by trading for Norichika Aoki. While Alex Gordon has done an admirable job getting on base as the leadoff hitter, he does not have the speed that the Royals could use in that role. Aoki, despite his issues stealing bases last year, does have excellent speed and has been a solid outfielder. He may not be the power bat that the Royals envisioned as a corner outfielder, but he still fills a major need.

Then, they signed Omar Infante to another four year deal, this time for $30.5 Million. Infante provides the Royals with someone that could slot in as the second hitter in the lineup, possibly allowing Gordon to down in the lineup as a run producer. Infante is also a solid defensive second baseman, and teamed with Alcides Escobar, could provide an excellent defensive middle infield.

Even better, the only player that the Royals have moved thus far has been Will Smith. The core of their lineup remains intact, and if Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez can continue their development, and if Mike Moustakas can become even close to the hitter the Royals envisioned, then the Royals may not need to worry about that power bat.

There are still holes that the Royals need to fill. They still need to find someone to fill the role vacated by Santana; unless, of course, they are able to bring him back. Right now, that appears to be the biggest area of need.

As it stands, the Royals have a solid B for their offseason. Depending on how they handle the second starter spot, and the return for their excess of fourth outfielders and relievers, that grade could improve.

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  • jimfetterolf

    Agreeable analysis. The trading of OFs and RPs is about the last of it, as I get the impression that the Royals are comfortable enough with Duffy and Ventura to trade Smith. I think Dayton Moore thinks his rotation is set and has some depth with Hoch and Davis in the ‘pen and Zimmer a phone call away. Some two of those five hot arms will get rotation spots to begin. I’m good with that.

  • Ardent Shepherd

    I like the analysis as well. I think Aoki will be taking some time in CF as well, so getting another OF with pop would nullify the Aoki lack of it.

    • Christian camlin

      Most likely when we rest Cain in center we will use Dyson instead of Aoki in center.and if Aoki plays center that forces us to use Maxwell in right which cut the outfields offensive and defensive strength too much.

  • moretrouble

    Everyone seems to be in agreement – KC has done a good job filling holes at RF, 2B and have replaced Chen. If they were to sign Santana, they’d be in great shape, but as it stands now, they’re going to rely on in-house candidates for the last rotation spot.

    “If” is a popular word in the off-season and posters will forgive my usage here, but if Duffy and Ventura emerge as Michael Wacha did for St. Louis late last season, KC will win the AL Central. That’s a nice thought on a cold winter’s night, when everything – and nothing – seems possible.

    • Dave Lowe

      Big “ifs,” but I agree. Duffy and Ventura looked great in 2013, so who knows what the future holds. That’s the beauty of baseball. It will be a special season if these two perform!

      • Christian camlin

        Indeed it could be good but you may want to chaNGE YOUR MONIKER.See our rookie this past year spelled his name David Lough.2nd we just traded him to the Orioles.

  • unclejesse40

    I really like the off season so far. I think that the 4th year on these contracts is getting over blown by some around the Blog o sphere. If pitcher salaries continue to rise at the current rate, 8 million for Vargas as a number 5 in the rotation probably won’t be that bad and if he continues to be average I bet you could trade him in year three if you really needed to create a spot for a young arm. This is our go for it year and with the moves that GMDM has made I have more faith in that now than I did a couple of months ago. Still would like to see us sign a reclamation project pitcher, yes I’m looking at you Johan Santana. While I would like to see a power bat added to the lineup I think the cost of that power bat at this point in the game is going to cost more than what we probably should be spending. Great write up David! Go Royals!

  • Dave Lowe

    Great stuff, David. Hey, how about an article analyzing the rotations of the AL Central (other than the Royals) that the Royals will be facing in 2014?

    I like what I’m seeing in Minnesota, as Hosmer should be able to feast on the marginal righties they will have in their rotation.

    Kazmir is gone in Cleveland, so that’s favorable for Hosmer, Moose, and Gordon…and I believe Cleveland currently has 5 righties set up to be in their rotation.

    Chicago? Gone is Santiago, another lefty, but Sale and Quintana remain.

    In Detroit, Smyly might be added to their rotation, so that’s a negative for our left handed hitters.


    • Dave Hill

      I had thought on writing up an analysis of the other AL Central teams around the time that Spring Training starts. Definitely seems as though the entire division is tightening up – Detroit may not be the clear favorites anymore losing Fielder and Fister.