Recently, the Kansas City Royals extended Dayton Moore and Ned Yost, making sure their brain trust was locked up for the long term. If they have their way, those will not be the only long term extensions to be agreed upon.
The largest obstacle for smaller market teams, once they have success, is the ability to retain those key players who helped transform the team into a winning ballclub. Teams like the Oakland A’s and the Tampa Bay Rays have tried to be creative to remain atop their divisions, but eventually slide back to the pack since they are unable to keep those pieces needed to compete. This is a fate that the Kansas City Royals have hoped to avoid.
In recent years, as the Royals have had more success, the thought process on the team has changed. David Glass has pumped more money into the franchise as the Royals have been more successful, with the resigning of Alex Gordon and free agent Ian Kennedy receiving the two highest paying contracts in team history. In fact, the Royals projected payroll would not only be the highest in franchise history, but would rank 13th in baseball if the projections prove to be accurate.
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Yet, even with these expenditures, the Royals window of opportunity is expected to close after the 2017 season. With only five players under contract after that year, and the thought that the Royals will be welcoming numerous minor league players to the fold, it is thought that the scrappy little team that could will fall back to the pack, if not now, then certainly in a couple of years. Such is the life of a ‘small market franchise,’ right?
Well, not if the Royals can help it. After agreeing to two year extensions with Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas this offseason, and a similar extension with Eric Hosmer last year, the Royals are hoping to lock in several of their key players on long term deals. In fact, those extensions signed in the past two years could be looked upon as a stepping stone for such negotiations.
Call to the Pen
The Royals certainly have their work cut out for them if they want to retain the core of this roster. Wade Davis, who is set to be a free agent after 2017, could be considered a top three closer in baseball. Cain has emerged into a star. Hosmer’s defense and solid offense are solid fits for the Royals lineup. Alcides Escobar‘s special glove may attract teams who have started to realize how important defense has become. For Moustakas, another year similar to 2015 could boost his value to the point where he would want to test the waters of free agency.
That does not change the Royals confidence that they can keep several pieces of their core. What the Royals have built in their clubhouse is a special bond, one that few teams in baseball may be able to match. That chemistry, familiarity, and now, a winning environment, may be able to entice a couple of key players to remain in town. That increasing payroll can only help as well.
These are not the Kansas City Royals of past years, where their star players would be traded away or lost in free agency. It is a brave new world, and one where these players will stick around if the Royals front office has their way.