The Kansas City Royals maximized their window of opportunity, making the past two World Series and winning the championship last year. How long can that window remain open?
When the Kansas City Royals traded for James Shields and Wade Davis on December 9, 2012, it signaled the end of an era. The Royals, who had been doormats for so long, were ready to contend. With a developing young nucleus, and a starter who could front the rotation, the time was now.
The Royals have certainly maximized that opportunity. Since 2013, the Royals have won the most games in the American League, and the fourth most in baseball, as they have gone 292-225 including the postseason. Kansas City made two World Series appearances, winning the championship last season. The thought that the Royals were ready to win, and win now, proved to be correct.
Now, the question is, how long can the Royals window remain open? There could well be a mass exodus from Kansas City this offseason, as the Royals have nine free agents. Alex Gordon, the face of the new Royals resurgence, is a free agent. Trade deadline acquisitions Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist are likely to depart. Greg Holland was not offered arbitration after undergoing Tommy John surgery. There could well be a great deal of change come Opening Day 2016.
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That state of change is likely to carry on into the foreseeable future. Come 2018, only Yordano Ventura will be under contract with the Kansas City Royals, and Salvador Perez will have his team option. Aside from those two, the Royals will need to locate 23 new players. While some will undoubtedly have to come via free agency, Kansas City may be looking for the farm system to generate talent for the major league roster.
The Royals approach to free agency this offseason will likely determine how long that window remains open. While Dayton Moore has had a great deal of success shopping in the discount aisles over the past few seasons, the Royals may need to do more than that to remain on top of the American League. With quite a few players either having reached free agency, or set to in the next two seasons, that window of contention may be rapidly closing.
The Kansas City Royals are at a crossroads right now, where their window of opportunity may be rapidly closing. it will be interesting to see what Dayton Moore and the front office do to keep that window open.