KC Royals: Dayton Moore Will Need More Free-Agent Wizardry In 2016


Free Agency officially began Monday, November 9 for the KC Royals and the other 29 major-league baseball clubs. Looking over KC’s free agent losses and top prospect list, I can’t help but conclude that Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore is going to have to pull another rabbit out of his hat in the free-agent market for his team to take a third consecutive American League pennant.

The following KC Royals are free agents this winter, which includes eight players from the World Series roster and two more that appeared for the team during the 2015 season:

Alex Gordon

Alex Rios

Ben Zobrist

Jeremy Guthrie

Johnny Cueto

Chris Young

 Franklin Morales

Ryan Madson

Joba Chamberlain

Jonny Gomes

Wandy Rodriguez

Rafael Furcal

Casey Kotchman

Further, closer Greg Holland and starter Jason Vargas both underwent Tommy John surgery this season and are likely to miss all, or a significant portion, of the 2016 season.

The 2016 Kansas City Royals have far too many holes to fill to simply rely on the farm system. Top propects Raul Mondesi and Bubba Starling did not play above AA last season, and pitchers Kyle Zimmer and Miguel Almonte don’t appear ready to hold down rotation spots at the beginning of 2016. Perhaps outfielders Brett Eibner or Jose Martinez could take over for Alex Rios, and infielder Cheslor Cuthbert can help off the bench, but the Kansas City Royals will need more help.

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In short KC Royals fans, Dayton Moore has some work to do.

Last winter, Moore enjoyed a phenomenal run in the free-agent market. He acquired Edinson Volquez, Kendrys Morales, Alex Rios, Chris Young, Kris Medlen, Ryan Madson, Joe Blanton, Jason, Frasor, Casey Kotchman, and Rafael Furcal for around $61 million. Only Kotchman and Furcal failed to contribute at the major-league level. While Rios was a disappointment, the remaining six proved to be screaming bargains.

Overall, Moore’s 2015 free-agent class produced 9.4 Wins Above Replacement (bWAR). Given that the market price for free agent talent suggested an approximate $7 million per WAR rate, the KC Royals got around $65.8 million in value. It’s an even better bargain when you remember that Kendrys Morales, Edinson Volquez, and Kris Medlen signed two-year deals. I was also using Fangraphs.com’s WAR cost estimate for the 2014 offseason, which is inevitably less than 2015.

The KC Royals will get back Tim Collins from Tommy John surgery last spring, so he should help the bullpen. But Moore will need to find answers at both corner outfield spots and rotation slots after Volquez and Yordano Ventura. While some of those answers are undoubtedly already in the system, or on the roster, Dayton Moore will need to find success on the free-agent market.

Next: Royals Interested In Darren O'Day

Moore’s top priorities are to bring back free-agents Alex Gordon and Ben Zobrist. Failing that, my colleague David Hill wrote a slide-show about top rotation targets for the bargain-hunting Dayton Moore, who will again sort through the reject pile for free-agent gold.