12 days of KC Royals: A decade without rebuild
By Jordan Foote
2010-2019 was a rollercoaster of a decade for the KC Royals. Every fan should be hoping for a smooth decade of baseball to follow.
Welcome back to Kings of Kauffman’s 12 Days of KC Royals Christmas series. Every day through December 25, the team here will take turns coming up with their wish lists for the hometown squad. Today, let’s focus on a wish everyone probably has: a decade without rebuild.
Technically, you could call the 2020 and 2021 seasons “rebuild” years if you wanted to. Touché. The beginning of the transformation into the next contending core of the Kansas City Royals launched following the conclusion of the 2017 season, though. Deciding to part ways with Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain signaled the franchise was headed in a different direction. Later deciding to do the same with Mike Moustakas and Alcides Escobar cemented it.
The organization’s farm system has improved significantly in recent years. Sprinkled with position-player talent like Bobby Witt Jr., there’s enough to be excited about. The 2018 draft class truly raised the bar, though. The additions of Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar, Daniel Lynch, Kris Bubic and others provide glimmers of hope. There is legitimate reason to believe the future of the Royals is in good shape.
Team general manager Dayton Moore is credited with putting together the teams that went to the World Series in 2014 and won the whole shebang the following year. He combined an impressive crop of homegrown talent with some savvy trade/free agent acquisitions to field some of the best squads the MLB had to offer this decade. He’ll need to have one more trick up his sleeve to improve on that model in the 2020s.
The last run was a good one. From 2013 to 2017, the team was at least somewhat competitive. The beginning and end years weren’t playoff-caliber, but they were fairly close. Let’s get this out of the way: The 2020 version of the Kansas City Royals is not going to be very good. Heck, the 2021 version of the same team probably won’t be good, either. But once top prospects get promoted and acclimated to the MLB, along with the current core peaking at the same time, things could turn out great.
What happens after that will determine whether or not Moore learned from the last instance. Once the 2015 World Series team disbanded, the dreaded “small market effect” set in. To throw salt onto the wound, the minor league system was quite anemic in terms of talent. To create a lasting contender this coming decade, hitting on the majority of the club’s draft picks is paramount.
A lot will ride on new owner John Sherman’s willingness to spend. He’s mentioned sustained success being one of his goals with this team. Does that mean he’d rather be a perennial 90-win team instead of a 100-plus game winner for just a few seasons? Perhaps. If that’s the case, we could be in for an interesting span of Royals baseball.
At any rate, it’s been a rough past couple of seasons. Most fans may not have another drawn-out rebuild in them. Let’s hope there won’t be one for quite some time.