This should be the last “quiet” KC Royals winter for a while
By Jordan Foote
The KC Royals are one of the most sedentary teams in Major League Baseball when it comes to making offseason moves. That shouldn’t last much longer.
The MLB offseason is past its dog days and is now settling down a bit before spring training begins in February. Teams have made the majority of the moves they originally set out to make and rosters are beginning to take shape. For the KC Royals, it’s been a relatively quiet past couple of months when comparing to teams across the league.
Sure, there have been some bargain bin acquisitions for the bullpen. The Maikel Franco move is interesting and generated some buzz for a day or two. Bringing Alex Gordon back soon will be a fun signing for the fans. As we head into the 2020 season, though, the internal changes the club has undergone have made the most noise.
Out is Ned Yost. In is Mike Matheny. From third base and second base, Hunter Dozier and Whit Merrifield are now in right and center field, respectively. Outside of that, not too much has changed. This 2018 and 2019 seasons were setting the KC Royals up for 2020, when the dominos begin to fall and the organization figures out who does — and doesn’t — belong in its future.
Can Bubba Starling hit major league pitching? What about Brett Phillips? Both have struggled immensely to this point in their careers and are running out of time. Is Ryan O’Hearn in for a bounceback 2020 season? Will Danny Duffy finally live up to the price tag put on him when the Royals signed him to an extension? Internal competition has always been the driving factor.
Two larger pieces should fit into the puzzle after this season. With one more year to get a look at the likes of Brad Keller, Adalberto Mondesi, Jorge Soler and Dozier, contract extensions could follow suit. Under new leadership at the very top, payroll is set to start off very low. Should Dayton Moore want to go after a big-ish (no Gerrit Cole-like player is going to come to KC via free agency) name in the FA market, will owner John Sherman let him?
What about the 2015 World Series team? In addition to a bunch of in-house talent peaking at the right time, Moore made a pair of brilliant decisions during the season: acquiring Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto‘s services. 2021 is too early to expect anything more than a somewhat competitive Royals team, so perhaps those kinds of splash moves will have to wait.
One thing is likely, though: This is the most “quiet” you’ll see an offseason for the KC Royals for the next several years. The future is bright, and it’ll glow even brighter with some more activity a year from now.