This edition of KC Royals Midweek Musings poses some of the questions a shortened or canceled 2020 season will raise and, for good measure, hits some other baseball issues.
Here are some random KC Royals Midweek Musings while pondering answers to the many questions the club and baseball will confront in the face of a season certain to be shortened or possibly canceled.
Alex Gordon surprised almost no one when he spurned retirement and signed a one-year deal (including a waiver of his no-trade rights) to return for the 2020 season. Because baseball and the players union have already agreed that if canceled, this season will in effect be considered, for player contract purposes, as a season played, Gordon’s deal will end this fall. Will he and the Royals want a re-up? Or, if there’s no baseball, will a year without games take the edge off their mutual interest in Gordon’s return for another campaign?
Ian Kennedy. How serious will interest be in Ian Kennedy who, after failing to deliver as a starter in the first three seasons of his five-year, $70 million deal, switched to relieving for the first time last season and became an effective closer? Will one successful season out of the bullpen establish a good market for Kennedy? Should the Royals make a run at keeping him?
Newcomer Maikel Franco is on a one-year deal and will again be arbitration-eligible. If spring training games are all the baseball we’ll have this season, has he seen enough of the KC Royals, and they of him, to spark interest in negotiating another contract to keep him in Kansas City? Or will the club non-tender him?. (Franco was hitting .267 with one home run and four RBIs in 11 Cactus League games).
Kyle Zimmer was awarded an extra minor league option during spring training, meaning the Royals can send him up and down as much as they need to if the season resumes. Will he and the club retain that benefit in the event of a canceled or short season, or will the management-labor deal treating 2020 as played be interpreted to cover options?
Danny Duffy has one year left on his five-year $65 million contract after this season. Duffy makes no secret of his love for the Royals and KC but, if this season is wiped out, or only part of it’s played, will he need a lights-out 2021 campaign to retain the club’s interest? Or will it let him walk? Or will an excellent first half next season prompt the Royals to shop him at the trade deadline?
Whit Merrifield. General manager Dayton Moore has resisted all suitors interested in trading for Whit Merrifield. Will significant missed playing time occasioned by a short or canceled season make it any more likely the Royals might consider moving Merrifield? Whether baseball resumes or not, the club controls their star center fielder/jack-of-all-trades through 2022 and holds an option for 2023, which will be his age-34 season.
Jorge Soler. The Royals avoided arbitration with Jorge Soler after his 48-homer 2019 season by signing him to a one-year $7.3 million contract. He’s arb-eligible for 2021. But under the reported terms of MLB’s deal with the union, his salary will be prorated if any 2020 games are played or, if the season is canceled, limited to what he received as part of salary advances the union agreed to for its members. Will he and the Royals go to arbitration for 2021 or work another deal; if there’s no baseball, will Soler agree to accept the same $7.3 million if it’s offered?
Hillerich & Bradsby isn’t making bats during the shutdown. Have we seen the last of the famed Louisville Slugger if COVID-19 forces cancellation of the season?
Baseball-Reference simulated 2020 season continues. Ever since Kings of Kauffman’s David Scharff told you Baseball-Reference.com is utilizing Out of the Park Baseball 21 to simulate the 2020 season (Baseball-Reference.com gives daily updates), we’ve provided you weekly news about the simulated Royals’ trials and tribulations in this space.
Through Tuesday’s games, and after losing four in a row, the KC Royals are 13-16. They’re in fourth place in the AL Central, five-and-a-half games behind first-place Cleveland. Merrifield’s .305 average leads the club, Brett Phillips continues to lead in homers with six, Hunter Dozier has 16 RBIs and Adalberto Mondesi has stolen 12 bases.
Jorge Lopez remains perfect at 4-0 and Ian Kennedy has seven saves.
The Yankees, Indians, Braves and Dodgers all have sole possession of their division leads while the A’s and Astros are tied in the AL West and the Pirates and Cardinals share the NL Central lead.
We’ll be back next week with more KC Royals Midweek Musings. Until then, stay safe and healthy.