Although the KC Royals haven’t made any blockbuster moves this winter, the club has changed. A new owner and manager took over, an icon died, two personnel changes shook the lineup, and the club made some inexpensive deals.
The final out of each World Series triggers major league baseball’s offseason, that bittersweet period between the end of one season and the beginning of another, a time when winter weather and the players’ need for rest and recuperation combine to render games impractical. At the same time, free agency, trades, retirements and other team moves make those few months before Spring Training begins interesting and often exciting for all big-league clubs, including the KC Royals.
To be sure, the Royals, much to the chagrin of many fans, are rarely major offseason players. They prefer incremental change to mega-deals, and inexpensive moves compatible with their frugal ways to huge contracts. With few exceptions, KC’s typical winter transactions are minor, designed primarily to fill perceived lineup holes, add a bat or an arm or shed excess payroll. Fans dream every year of major game-changing trades and free agent signings that inevitably never occur, but the mere prospect of such things really happening makes the offseason easier to endure.
But this has been a different winter hiatus for the Royals. There have been some major changes–new ownership now controls the franchise; one field manager retired and another replaced him; the man who oversaw the return of championship baseball to Kansas City, but drew the ire of some fans, died; and the addition of one player and return of a team icon rattled the lineup.
Let’s examine these top offseason storylines that give this Royals’ winter a bit of a different look.