KC Royals New Year’s Resolution No. 4: A moratorium on reclamation projects.
The term “reclamation project” is synonymous with Kansas City, a club frequently open to giving veteran players—especially pitchers—second chances other teams won’t. The Royals are an occasional refuge for ballplayers recovering from injuries, or who simply need a team to offer them the opportunity to recapture lost form.
Take the recent past, for example. For 2020, Moore signed Trevor Rosenthal, a former Cardinal who pitched in St. Louis and enjoyed some phenomenal success as a closer when Mike Matheny skippered the Cards, and old Kansas City friend Greg Holland, a hero of the Royals’ 2014 pennant season and 2015 march to the World Series. And he brought back Wade Davis, another ex-KC bullpen star, last season.
All three relievers were once masters of their trade, but injuries and ineffectiveness set them adrift on the free agent market. Moore and the Royals rescued them with mixed results.
Rosenthal wasted little time becoming Matheny’s closer in the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign—he’d saved seven games when the Royals dealt him to San Diego at the season’s adjusted late-August trade deadline. Holland stepped into the closer’s role and finished with six saves and a 3-0, 1.91 record. But he wasn’t as good last season (3-5, 4.85).
Davis was the disappointment. He saved KC’s 2021 Opening Day win, struggled to a final 0-3, 6.75 slate, and retired in November.
Whether the Royals will initiate another reclamation project for 2022 won’t be known until the MLB lockout ends. But they shouldn’t. Although they’re typically low-cost, low-risk ventures, the club needs to focus entirely on developing the young pitchers and position players already in the Kansas City system. The payoffs will last longer.
Happy New Year!