Kansas City Royals: Projecting the 2021 starting lineup

(Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
(Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) /

With a new owner expected to be approved this November, it is not too early to look at what the Kansas City Royals lineup might look like in two seasons.

If you recall I recently did a starting pitching rotation projection for 2021 and now we will focus on the offense. Part of the assumptions I made in the first article will apply here:

"With possibly $25-35 million more from Fox Sports Kansas City and at least Kennedy and Gordon’s salary gone that gives John Sherman an additional $60 million to hand out to solid players, not to mention if he decides to throw in more of his own money.  — Kings of Kauffman"

I had the Royals picking up Jake Odorizzi for around $17M per year. Gerrit Cole would be the ultimate get but his expected price range would drive Kansas City out the running unless they only wanted to add one piece to a puzzle missing many. Anthony Rendon is a free agent and I tried to find a scenario that joining the Royals could work but he will probably fetch over $30M per year and I do not believe that KC could or should part with that amount.

One player who would be a great fit is Cardinal outfielder Marcell Ozuna. He is swinging to a .245/.329/.485 slash and although those numbers are softer than his career average I think it helps Kansas City sign him. He will rebound and that means improving on the 29 home runs and getting on base more. Defensively it will be a drop from Alex Gordon but the bat more than makes up for it.

We need to face the fact that having Bubba Starling and Brett Phillips in the outfield will hurt the team offensively. Only one can survive and my money is on Starling. Ozuna is on a one year deal for $12.25M and he will be going into his age 29 season. I can see a four or five-year deal averaging around $18M per season as a nice get for Kansas City.

I know I recently wrote about the Royals not signing veteran players in hopes they rebound and we can trade them for value. This move may look like that but it is not. I am not convinced Nicky Lopez is a long-term solution at second base.

I advocate we spend more of our money on a player who had two tremendous seasons in ’17 and ’18 averaging 25 dingers and batted over .300 and played solid defense. A groin injury derailed him this year but that makes Scooter Gennett easier to sign for hopefully around the $10M per year range.

I also believe Ryan O’Hearn may not be able to hold down the job at first base and we have a great leader who should step away from the catching position to prolong his career. I feel by 2021 Salvador Perez needs to learn the craft at first base and that way he can still be the field general we need.

Between Odorizzi, Ozuna, and Gennett we have used roughly $45-50 million out of Sherman’s wallet which leaves money for arbitration and resigning players that we have developed to keep them around. These free agent acquisitions, while not going to rock the baseball world, would make the Royals significantly better. There are some talented bats in the minors but they are all very young and will not be ready for the majors in 2021.

Without further ado, here is the projected lineup for 2021:

1) Whit Merrifield, RF
2) Adalberto Mondesi, SS
3) Jorge Soler, DH
4) Hunter Dozier, 3B
5) Marcell Ozuna, LF
6) Salvador Perez, 1B
7) Scooter Gennett, 2B
8) Bubba Starling, CF
9) MJ Melendez, C

Next. Young Players Should Follow Whit's Lead. dark

Of course much can change in the next offseason with the change in ownership and trades but I believe this lineup would go a long way to making the Royals a top team again.