With the KC Royals in need of serious improvement, free agents signings are a must. They will not help, though, if they bring nothing in return.
The KC Royals lost over 100 games two years in a row. It’s been said a million times at this point, and fans know that it happened. They watched it, they read about it, they’ve complained about it. It’s not going away, though, because as of yet the Royals haven’t done much in the way of improving their team.
There were some hopes, maybe just from Royals optimists like myself but still, that the Royals would actually make a move or two in the offseason. They have signed a few players to minor league contracts, and for some reason a third baseman, but the biggest problems have yet to be touched.
To be fair, the signing of players who may find their way again to small minor league contracts is not the worst decision and could prove to have a good outcome. The Jesse Hahn signing is, interesting, but still not the worst. Even the Maikel Franco signing seems more unnecessary than completely horrible (my optimism is showing). But, this is a typical Dayton Moore and the Royals organization offseason.
If Moore continues with this offseason as he did in 2019, the team will be wasting their time with any signings. It’s understood that Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strausberg and pitchers alike were not going to come to Kansas City. Their cost is too high, and they have the option to go where the winning might take place.
There were options available, though, that might have been a bit easier for the Royals to grab. Pitchers like Wade Miley and Michael Wacha are making a combined $10.5 million next year, a price tag even the Royals can afford. They might not have wanted to tread water with a losing team either, but if the Royals offered a bit more, they might have taken the risk.
While any player can come with risks, the lower-priced signings like a Miley or Wacha are what the Royals need to be going after. Either lock them up for the long haul, or trade them in July for prospects, either way, a good return should be the end goal.
Looking at last year, the Royals did the exact opposite of avoiding wasted signings. Between Billy Hamilton, Chris Owings, Brad Boxberger, and Lucas Duda, over $11 million dollars were spent with little or absolutely no return.
It’s hard to believe the narrative that the team just doesn’t have the money to spend on free agents when players with future or trade potential like Miley, Wacha, Julio Teheran, Will Smith, etc. are all going for prices that the Royals can obviously afford if they aren’t spending money on the Owings’ and Dudas of baseball.
The arguments will remain that players don’t want to come to losing teams, the Royals are a small market team that can’t afford big-name free agents, and so on. The story will never change, though, if the team doesn’t put themselves in the conversation in the first place.
Maybe those arguments are right and until the Royals show some life they won’t be able to bring anyone big in. If that’s the case, Dayton Moore may be better of leaving the team as they are and hoping for the best. While it can’t be known for sure, if Dayton Moore is simply biding his time until the team is in a better place and the right deal comes to the table, great, then save the money for that time.
There is absolutely no reason for a signing like Owings, who added some utility defensive help to an already defensive-heavy team and no assistance at the plate. It’s also difficult to find the reasoning behind the Duda signing, adding a third first baseman to the roster; granted they all struggled, but Duda was no better than the other two.
While leaving the team as it is may keep the Royals in the area of 100 losses for another season, if spending $15 million on free agents is going to lead to the same outcome, there is every reason to avoid these contracts and give the younger players a shot.
The Royals have a long way to go before they are postseason bound. Making signings that lead to no return, though, may only hinder the process and keep them from contention even longer. Putting a stop to useless signings could help make some payroll space and provide an opportunity for young prospects to finally prove their worth.