What are the biggest questions for the Royals during baseball’s annual offseason meetings?
With a new collective bargaining agreement all but in the books – both sides still need to vote on the proposed CBA – we can finally turn our full attention to this week’s Winter Meetings in Washington, D.C.
So yes, Kansas City has some question marks it needs to address.
Here’s five we hope to get answered this week:
1. Does Dayton Moore have the green light to actually sign anyone?
So yeah, this is the big question.
The Kansas City Star’s Sam Mellinger wrote last week that Royals owner David Glass will not OK any moves that would put Kansas City above a $148 million payroll for 2017.
That’s more than last year’s Opening Day payroll of approximately $140 million, Mellinger wrote, and includes room for pay jumps via negotiated raises and arbitration.
But that’s about it.
What the Royals do – or don’t do – during the Winter Meetings will be telling. Yes, it’ll be a little heartbreaking if nothing is done to improve the club in the final year before Hosmer, Moustakas, Cain, Dyson, Duffy and Davis hit free agency.
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2. Is the “floating” DH a real option for the KC Royals?
Early in the offseason Dayton Moore suggested the Royals may use a “floating” designated hitter, meaning the position would be a platoon/rest-day-for-regulars hybrid.
Yes, that sounds horrible – and cheap.
With plenty of aging sluggers available on the open market, the Royals have multiple options at multiple prices to choose from when looking for a future DH.
But like everything else on this list, it all comes down to David Glass’ willingness to go past that $148 million mark. With the current roster, the DH spot would probably be split between Cheslor Cuthbert and Paulo Orlando with Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain and Salvy Perez taking turns during half rest days.
This version of the Royals’ DH – which FanGraphs predicts would be the worst in baseball – would essentially be comprised of two players not good enough to start in the field for one of the American League’s weakest lineups.
It’ll be interesting to see if the Royals try to attract a hitter looking to prove something like Chris Carter or Jose Bautista on a one-year deal – or stand pat and hope for the best with Cuthbert, Orlando and Co.
3. What pitcher coming off injury or a down year will the Royals try to sign and revive?
We’re all familiar with this move. Kansas City takes a low-risk gamble on a pitcher trying to resurrect his career after a down year or two.
It worked with Ervin Santana, Joe Blanton and Ryan Madson. Not so much with Dillon Gee, Mike Minor and Kris Medlen.
Look for Kansas Cit to offer a two-year deal with a mutual option for a third, similar to what Edinson Vólquez signed before the start of the 2015 season.
4. Do the Royals pick up a middle infielder to compete for the starting second base job?
The free-agent options for middle infielders this offseason are limited at best.
Chase Utley is still out there. So are veterans Stephen Drew, Kelly Johnson and Gordon Beckham.
Maybe the most interesting Royals-type option out there is former Tampa Bay prospect Ryan Brett, who was non-tendered earlier this month. A third-round pick in 2010, Brett hit over .300 and stole more than 25 bases in the minors in 2013 and 2014. He missed most of 2015 with a shoulder injury and a PED suspension and then all of 2016 following Tommy John surgery.
Not related to Royals great George Brett, Ryan Brett will only be 25 on Opening Day 2017.
5. Do the Royals move Jarrod Dyson?
Does Jarrod Dyson open the season as the Royals’ starting center fielder, in a right-field platoon with Paulo Orlando – or as leadoff hitter for someone else?
The 32-year-old outfielder posted career highs in average (.278), on-base percentage (.340) and OPS (.728) in 107 games last year while also stealing 30 bases. He’s also a free agent after 2017 and the Royals have two players in Billy Burns and Terrance Gore with similar skill sets.
We’re as anxious as you are to see how these questions play out over the next week and throughout the offseason in general.