The KC Royals won’t be Cleveland’s doormat this season

(Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports) /
1 of 4
KC Royals, Carlos Santana
(Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) /

Cleveland has dominated the KC Royals for several years. That’s about to change.

When new KC Royals first baseman Carlos Santana take his first crack at his old team this afternoon at Cleveland’s Progressive Field, he’ll see a far different club than the one he left to join Kansas City last December.

And his new teammates won’t be facing the same team that’s dominated them for the past five years: since winning the 2015 World Series, the Royals are 31-55 against Cleveland. But because the Indians and Royals aren’t now what they have been, that domination should end this season, and the beginning of that end may come today when the Royals start their first road series at 3:10 p.m. CDT.

Because the Indians finished just a game behind American League Central champion Minnesota and clinched a Wild Card in 2020, the personnel changes they’ve made might be surprising. But money issues haunt every club eventually; Cleveland is no exception, and finances became the excuse when last season concluded.

Clearly, what was, or wasn’t, in Cleveland’s coffers drove trading Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco to the Mets in January. Via arbitration, Lindor stood to make much more than his $17.5 million 2020 salary and was headed for free agency after 2021. The Indians owed Carrasco $12 million this season and next; considering he pitched well in his 2020 comeback from leukemia, money had to be at play.

But that trade wasn’t the only damaging move tied to money. The club also saved itself the $10 million cost of picking up premier closer Brad Hand’s contract by cutting him loose.

And, while the Indians didn’t completely offset those losses with significant winter acquisitions, the Royals’ aggressive offseason narrowed the gap between the teams and means the Indians have one less division doormat.

So, what is this changed Cleveland club like?