The KC Royals usually don’t make much offseason news, but they’re earning good grades so far this winter.
The KC Royals, notoriously quiet and somewhat immovable during most baseball winters, have been conspicuously active since the World Series ended and the game moved into an offseason rendered uncertain by the pandemic that turned the 2020 campaign into the most unique in the game’s history.
It isn’t the number of moves the Royals have made, or the money they’ve spent, that makes this edition of baseball’s annual rite of winter transactions different. Instead, it’s the quality of the club’s major transactions, and their potential impact on a team edging ever-closer to emerging from its painful rebuild, that sets this one apart. and warrants a good report card.
The Royals’ latest major move was unquestionably their least surprising. Little more than a week before Christmas, the club re-signed Greg Holland, one of a pair of 2020 pitching salvage projects that proved to be two of the best ever authorized by General Manager Dayton Moore.
In an ideal world, Kansas City would bring back both subjects of those projects, but San Diego’s deeper coffers and better chances to contend next season make it unlikely Moore can lure Trevor Rosenthal back. Rosenthal convincingly took the closer’s job away from Ian Kennedy before the season’s first pitch, but his late August trade to the Padres opened the door for Holland to reclaim the spot he filled so completely during KC’s 2013-2015 return to glory campaigns. He didn’t disappoint, finishing the short season 3-0 with a vintage Holland ERA of 1.91.
Holland will enter spring training as the Royals’ presumptive closer…unless, of course, Moore manages to coax Rosenthal back to Kauffman Stadium. If that happens, he’ll earn an “A+” for offseason bullpen moves; if he doesn’t, re-signing the savvy veteran Holland deserves an “A-.”
How about the other three major moves?