It’s Hot Stove season and several teams, including the American League Central Division clubs, are making moves. The KC Royals have made a couple of trades and signed a few players…but are they doing enough?
As baseball’s Hot Stove season cooled down for the Christmas holiday, one thing was clear in the American League Central Division: hoping to improve, most of its teams are wheeling and dealing, making trades and signing free agents. So far, the KC Royals boast a new third baseman and a few recycled pitchers; but are they doing enough, and will they do more?
Every big league team can stand improvement; nowhere in baseball might this be truer than in the AL Central. The Division’s reputation as one of the weakest and least competitive divisions (if not the weakest and least competitive) is well-earned — only six times in the last 20 seasons have more than two Central Division teams finished above .500. Last season, two Central teams (the KC Royals and Detroit) lost over 100 games.
Its overall weakness renders the Central easy prey for members willing to expend the financial and personnel resources necessary to build contending rosters. Hot Stove season is prime time to do that: via free agency and trades, aggressive teams can load up with new talent geared to win immediately.
Such is the obvious Hot Stove strategy of at least one Central team. Chicago has opened its sizable vault once again and is outdistancing other clubs in adding new talent. On the other hand, Minnesota is busy trying to retain as much of its 2019 title core as it can; Detroit is slowly adding pieces in hopes of improving on its horrible 2019. The Indians, once kings of the Central, appear to be shedding salary. And, unsurprisingly, the ever-conservative KC Royals are making primarily low-risk, inexpensive deals. How does KC’s approach stack up? Let’s take a look.
(Most clubs are also signing low-profile free agents to minor league deals; some are receiving Spring Training invitations. Discussed here are the more important transactions; because the current market is so fluid, some of the possible deals discussed here may have occurred or failed by now).