Forget about the throw in the 2015 World Series. Lucas Duda is now the Kansas City Royals’ first baseman, and that other guy is long gone.
When the 2017 season ended, Royals fans knew that it was going to be an off-season of change. After players we had grown to know and love left, and we all wondered how Dayton Moore would navigate the offseason. A couple of trades, an Alcides Escobar signing, and now, and new first baseman have answered some of those questions. Let’s evaluate a couple of things about the signing, and what it might actually mean for the boys in blue.
David Glass’ Checkbook
First, let’s all get over the idea that David Glass won’t spend money. The team talks payroll a lot but for the last several years, Glass has pretty much given Dayton Moore the green light to spend how he sees fit. Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Salvador Perez, Danny Duffy, and Ian Kennedy have been given significant deals by Glass and Moore. The Royals used to be a team that did everything cheap. That’s no longer the case, and it hasn’t been for a while. (They made a big run at Eric Hosmer as well, so the money is there if Moore wants to use it.)
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Despite all of this, the Royals are rebuilding. Their farm system is ranked last in baseball by many scouts and though it can be argued that the team has good prospects, they just don’t have any top grade, frontline prospects.
That brings us to Lucas Duda (and also Escobar). They serve two purposes. One, they are established major league players, and you know pretty much what you’re going to get from them. Neither of them is the future of the Royals. They’re stopgaps – guys who can play every day and be somewhat competitive but are only here for a season. Although it’s nice to have Adalberto Mondesi, Nicky Lopez, and Nick Pratto are the future for Kansas City.
Doing it the right way
Dayton Moore knows (perhaps better than any other GM in a small market) how important it is to have a stream of players from your own system ready to take the field, but more importantly, that they take the field together. Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, and Perez all came up around the same time. We all know how well that worked out. Those flags will fly forever.
Signing Escobar and Duda gives the Royals the opportunity to try the same thing again. It’s important for the Royals that the next wave of starting players is just that: a wave. It allows players like Mondesi, Nicky Lopez, Pratto and Hunter Dozier the chance to come up at roughly the same time, which maximizes their time together in Kansas City.
In two years, the Royals infield might look like this: Hunter Dozier at third base, Adalberto Mondesi at shortstop, Nicky Lopez at second base, and Nick Pratto at first base. If they play to their potential, that’s a good-to-very-good infield.
The key is letting them play as long as possible together in Kansas City, rather than watching one guy leave just as another is ready to contribute.
So, I say we should look ahead to what could be (and what I believe Dayton Moore is looking towards, as well), and for the moment, enjoy some of Esky’s defense, admire Duda’s power, and trust that Dayton Moore is doing everything he can to maximize the service time and competitive window of the next wave of talent. Always ‘Trust The Process.’