The Kansas City Royals are going to look, and feel, like a very different team in 2018. There are too many core players set to hit free agency to be able to retain them all. The reality is each potential free agent may leave town.
By now everyone knows the group I am talking about. The Kansas City Royals who came together to change the trajectory of the franchise. You may hate me because you have read the names so many times, but here they are again…trust me I hate myself a little right now.
As we swiftly move toward the All-Star break, the second half of the season will undoubtedly fly by. Hopefully another playoff run included. After that this dark reality, that has loomed since the World Series flag was raised on opening night 2016, will square off with Dayton Moore.
For the purpose of this exercise let’s assume that all the above players choose new places to work next season. Let us also not try to predict any trades or free agent signings that GMDM will without a doubt conduct. Instead we will look at what a Kansas City Royals team would look like made up of completely in-house options. Only using guys that are under contract for 2018, or currently residing in the minor league system.
First the everyday players (This is not a batting order)
First Base –
I am actually okay with this line up. The middle of order will absolutely be less than inspiring, but if the team readjusts to the “keep the line” moving mentality that brought them a championship (instead of the power that is driving 2017), it could have promise. I think this roster lends itself to the mystical rotating DH spot that has long been rumored.
The biggest concern is the lack of left handed hitting. Gordo is the only true lefty swinger, with Mondesi being able to switch it up. But perhaps the bench will be able to help us out a bit.
This feels like an okay bench. Obviously most fans are going to hope that Moss is not in the equation headed to next year (and I am with them), but he is under contract so he is on this roster. Honestly I hope that his name is replaced with Ryan O’Hearn.
If that was to happen then pencil O’Hearn in at 1B and Cheslor on the bench. With Moss/O’Hearn, Dewees, and Torres – Ned Yost will have left handed options to go to in order to balance his righty heavy starters.
I know what most people are going to say, “Where is Bubba?” Bubba Starling was probably the most difficult name to leave off the list of position players. Here is why I ultimately excluded him.
I do feel like Bubba will be getting a 2017 September call up. I see him getting a few at bats that he will need to make the most of. He will then get a long look in the Spring. My expectation is that he will play decent, but not well enough to force his way to Kansas City and will once again head to Omaha to begin 2018. A good start will see him called up early in the year.
Dewees breaking camp with the big club over Bubba has everything to do with one thing, Speed. I believe Donnie will be an average major league player, but the speed element of his game fits with what the Royals value. He can be plugged in to pinch run and be able to cover ground in the spacious outfield of The K. Billy Burns or Terrance Gore could be options in the same mold, but unlike Starling I think Dewees could play himself onto the team.
Other Potential Options
- OF – Bubba Starling
- OF – Billy Burns
- OF – Terrance Gore
- Ryan O’Hearn
What this says it that we are extremely thin in prospects for the IF. AWESOME!
The Gnarly Starting Rotation
The top four spots of the rotation feel pretty set. Yes, I know, Kennedy can technically opt out of his contract after this season…blah, blah, blah. He is not going to. He will not get the same money on the market as he will on the back-loaded deal. So he is staying.
The hardest choice here is the number five spot. Honestly by the end of the 2017 this could change as Stram, Jake Junis, Miguel Almonte, and Eric Skoglund could all be in competition. They have all logged major league innings in 2017 and the more Yost looks to the young guys, one of them could separate themselves. I lean either Strahm or Skoglund just to get a second lefty in there.
The starting rotation next year projects to be very similar to this season’s group.
More from KC Royals News
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- KC Royals Free Agent Hunt: St. Louis has pitching
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- KC Royals: Let the Ryan O’Hearn Watch begin…again
Again there is not a ton of change when looking at who will potentially make up the bullpen group. The biggest wildcard will be Kyle Zimmer.
Zimmer has pitched well since transitioning to the bullpen. With his makeup Zimmer could be the next closer for the Kansas City Royals. Hopefully the move out of the rotation will help to limit his struggles with injuries and reward KC for drafting him fifth overall.
This group is not on the same level as the previous core that brought the Royals back to October baseball. However, I believe there is enough veteran leadership to help guide a new wave of Royals as they cut their teeth in the bigs. I do not expect them to challenge teams like Cleveland in 2018. One thing Yost and company have proven though is that you can never count them out.
Still I see next season requiring patience, from the front office and fans alike. I’ll say a final record of 74-88 and a fourth place finish in the American League Central. Here’s to hoping I am pleasantly surprised.