Ned Yost’s contract with the Kansas City Royals expires after the 2018 season. With a rebuild on the horizon (and parts of it currently occurring), will Yost want to stick around until the next wave of young talent is ready to contribute?
Ned Yost is in the twilight of his career. It’s generally accepted that when his time with the Kansas City Royals organization is over, so is his time in the MLB. He’s an avid hunter, even after an incident that caused him to break his pelvis. He has grandchildren to spend time with. Yost is undoubtedly approaching the end of his road in the MLB.
With that said, Yost faces a tough decision in the winter of 2018. His current contract with the Royals expires following the conclusion of the regular season. In September of 2017, Yost indicated he wanted to absolutely return for this season. “One more year, two more years, we’ll see what happens,” he stated near the end of the year. He also elaborated on the aforementioned statement a bit:
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"“I’m not walking away… For me, I love this organization. And to be able to transition some of these young players, it’s going to be easier for me to do it than anybody else. So, yeah, I want to be a part of it for a little bit longer.”"
That’s hard to get a read on. The phrase “a little bit longer” can be interpreted in a few different ways. Could it be one year? Sure. Could it be two? Yes. More than that? It’s possible.
Below, there are a few scenarios that could be in play for the Royals in 2018. Each scenario comes with a varying probability and will impact whether or not Ned Yost decides to return to the team. Let’s take a look!
Scenario 1: The 2018 Royals finish near or above .500
If the Royals are able to beat their PECOTA projection of 66 wins and then some, Yost will face a difficult decision come next winter. If young players such as Cheslor Cuthbert, Hunter Dozier, Jorge Bonifacio and Raúl Mondesí all play better than they’re projected to in 2018, this team could win quite a few more than 66 games. With some good-but-not-great pitching, a .500 record wouldn’t be out of the question.
This is not likely. Banking on all four of the above players (plus Alex Gordon and Jorge Soler, among others) to play great baseball in 2018 is not smart. There are too many what-ifs and not enough certainties. Looking back on Yost’s quote, he focused on ushering in the next wave of Kansas City Royals. If the younger players progress faster than expected, I believe this will expedite Yost’s retirement. Unless the club makes the playoffs, though, I believe Yost will return for one more season.
Scenario 2: The 2018 Royals finish with between 66-75 wins
This is the most likely of the three scenarios. Although the Royals are going to struggle this year, I’m not sure they’ll struggle to win fewer than 66 games. Losing Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain and (likely) Mike Moustakas hurts, I know. Alex Gordon could have a small bounceback year and perhaps Jorge Soler can put the pieces of the puzzle together. A healthy Ian Kennedy, Danny Duffy, Nathan Karns and a rejuvenated Kelvin Herrera should help the rotation and bullpen, respectively.
It’s a lot safer to bet on veterans improving to normal standards than unproven prospects or young players. If a few of the aforementioned things happen, a win total between 66-75 would make sense. This would be the worst case scenario for Yost. Without the club being decidedly horrible or decidedly average, the 62-year-old would feel obligated to return until his prospects are ready to play. In this case, Yost would sign a contract for two or more years.
Scenario 3: The 2018 Royals lose 100+ games
This could happen. I really, really hope it doesn’t, but I can’t rule it out. If the likes of Duffy and Whit Merrifield are traded and Dayton Moore elects to enter complete “blow it all up” mode, a 100-loss season would be the end result. The Royals would also have to suffer a couple major injuries and not receive much help at the plate from their prospects (knock on wood this isn’t the case). Glad we’ve got that out of the way.
If the team does lose 100 or more games in 2018, Yost would have to seriously question his future. It’s very hard (nearly impossible) to go from losing 100+ contests to being a contender in two years. Yost would either have to retire or stick around for three more seasons. Although his main goal is to prepare the next wave of talent, I’m not convinced he’d want to stay that much longer if the team was that bad. I believe Yost will retire if the team loses 100 or more games this season.
Ned Yost has been a big part the Kansas City Royals’ success. He’s the winningest skipper in franchise history. He’s brought two pennants and a championship to Kansas City. If it weren’t for him, the team wouldn’t be where it is today. With that said, all good things must come to an end. As a result of that, it’s time for Yost to use this season to evaluate his future with the team, for better or worse.
What do you think, Royals fans? Will Ned Yost stick around for another few years? Will this season be his last? Let us know what you have to say!