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.