KC Royals among teams with least to lose in 2020
By Jordan Foote
The KC Royals are clearly trying to come out of a rebuild, and the current state of the roster proves it. Not much talent will be lost after 2020.
A shortened — or completely scrapped — 2020 MLB season would hurt win-now teams the most. The KC Royals are in a rebuilding state, so not being able to play this year wouldn’t leave fans feeling as if they’d been robbed of a chance to compete for a championship. At least, that should be the case…
FanGraphs’ Dan Szymborski recently published an article titled “The Biggest Losers in a Seasonless Season.” He ranked all 30 teams in the league by their projected 2020 wins walking out the door via free agency this offseason. The Royals’ division rivals, the Minnesota Twins, ranked second with a departing WAR of 12.3. The Boys in Blue found themselves way further down the list.
At 23rd overall, Kansas City is slated to possibly lose 4.4 WAR to free agency in the coming offseason. The four major players here are Jorge Soler (2.4), Maikel Franco (0.9), Alex Gordon (0.9) and Ian Kennedy (0.7). Their combined 4.9 WAR is offset a bit by negative losses but overall, that quartet makes up what the Royals may not bring back for the 2021 campaign.
Soler was phenomenal in 2019, playing in all 162 games and clobbering 48 home runs to go with a .265 batting average. Shifting to a full-time designated hitter role was the key for him, and staying healthy for an entire season was a pleasant sight for the franchise. He re-upped with the Royals on a one-year, $7.3 million contract this past winter, and a shortened season could hurt him more than most other players. He’ll have to make up for lost time when and if play resumes.
Franco is eligible for a final year of arbitration in 2021, but the expectation is that he hits the free agent market following this season with the Royals. Then again, a shortened season could change that. Nevertheless, Franco will be looking to right the ship after an up-and-down tenure with the Philadelphia Phillies. His raw power potential makes him an intriguing option in the lineup despite his defensive shortcomings at third base.
Gordon and Kennedy resurrected their careers a bit last season, but father time is still working against both of them. Gordon signed a four-year, $72M contract in 2016 and played quite poorly for a huge chunk of it. He rebounded in 2019 and parlayed that into a one-year, $4M commitment for 2020. The team may face a difficult decision regarding him in the near future. Kennedy has emerged as a solid closer, but is in the final year of a five-year, $70M contract that was set to pay him a whopping $16.5M in 2020.
Losing Soler would hurt the KC Royals the most. Franco’s value to the team has yet to be determined and while Gordon and Kennedy are veteran leaders and acceptable players in their advanced ages, the youth movement isn’t too far away. It may be best to part ways with both of them after this season.