The signing of Ian Kennedy, as well as the re-signing of Alex Gordon and the extension for Lorenzo Cain, show that the KC Royals expect to contend over the next couple of seasons. These moves are also considered to show what the Royals feel their window of opportunity may be.
Let us fast forward ahead to the year 2017. Following that season, the KC Royals will have three players, Gordon, Joakim Soria and Yordano Ventura, under contract. Kelvin Herrera and Louis Coleman will be entering his final year of arbitration, while Christian Colon will be about to enter his first year. Salvador Perez, Chris Young and Omar Infante will have team options. Even if all of these players are brought back, that leaves quite a number of open positions on the roster.
Compare that to the start of the 2017 season. The Royals have seven players under contract, seven other players with an option and eight players entering the final year of arbitration. That roster is essentially set. It would also mark the end of the Royals expected window of contention.
At least, that is the popular consensus states. The Royals will maximize their window of opportunity, currently seen as being two more years, then watch as their prospects are brought up. There will be growing pains, as the Royals are envisioned as falling back to also ran status for a time, with the hope that the next wave of prospects can bring Kansas City back to the postseason in a few more years.
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Now, let us also imagine that the Royals make the postseason in either of the next two years, if not both. They have already had a major influx of money to their roster, going over $100 Million for the first time in 2015, and have already beaten that Opening Day mark. Another deep postseason run, especially if it culminates in another World Series appearance, will likely lead to another increase in payroll.
David Glass had stated that he would reinvest revenue increases back into the Royals. From the nadir of 2011, when the Royals $38 Million payroll was last in baseball, they have climbed into the upper half of the league. Kansas City currently ranks seventh in terms of the money they have spent in free agency this offseason. With increased success, payroll could end up going higher in the coming years.
Yes, there is a fine line that the Royals will need to walk. And yes, the Royals will need some of their younger players, like Bubba Starling and Kyle Zimmer, to contribute in the coming years. However, that does not necessitate that the roster will be like it was in 2011, when the roster was littered with prospects and Soria’s $4 Million contract was the largest on the team.
It is easy to imagine that the KC Royals will find themselves back in their familiar place as also-rans once this latest window of opportunity closes. After all, that is what happened in the past. Yet, if we have learned anything over the past few years, the past no longer applies to this current incarnation of the Royals. That window of opportunity, especially with the right moves, could be open longer than anyone would expect. With the roll Dayton Moore and the front office have been on, would you bet against them?