The Royals are currently in a precarious position. They are not good enough to compete. And the bullpen is a big reason why.
In 2019, the Kansas City Royals had a terrible bullpen. Only Baltimore had a worse ERA from their bullpen. The good news is that a decent bullpen can be built through minor league development and free-agent pickups.
The Royals have some up and coming options in guys like Scott Barlow, Richard Lovelady, Josh Staumont, and Kyle Zimmer. We also have some minor league guys like Gabe Speier and Grant Gavin that should become reasonable bullpen arms.
The bad news is that we have been unable to develop or find much in free agency over the last couple of seasons. If the Wily Peraltas and the Brad Boxbergers have reminded us of anything it is that building bullpens is not as easy as the Royals made it look during our pennant-winning seasons.
The biggest fear when it comes to our bullpen for 2020 is that we make the mistake of keeping Ian Kennedy. If we have no intention of competing in 2020, and all signs are that we do not, it makes no sense to have Kennedy closing out completely meaningless games rather than trade him in for some more prospects.
If 2020 is to be spent saving free agent money for some time in the future, a suggestion I remain skeptical of, then it should also be spent on player development for the future. We need to allow our young guys to learn the ropes in the bullpen. Let them pitch. Let them learn to overcome adversity and see which ones can figure it out.
Signing more veteran bullpen arms without adding starting pitching and some more bats in free agency is a waste. If we are going to embrace the losing, let us go all out. It does not really matter whether we lose 95 games or 115 games. What matters is that we actually find a few arms we can count on in the bullpen moving forward.