Give the KC Royals credit for improving last season. Although the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign made losing 100 games and fulling assessing the club impossible, Kansas City suffered over 100 losses in 2018 and 2019, so winning 74 games and losing 88 was better.
But 2021 left the Royals with work to do. Although they led the American League Central for much of April and into early May, legitimate contender status isn’t something they had then or achieved before the season ended. The roster just wasn’t built for it.
And the club clearly knew that. The Royals took full advantage of their ability to sign minor leaguers during the lockout by adding a slew of minor league free agents, including several new bullpen pieces, and didn’t discount the possibility of beginning the 2022 season with top prospect Bobby Witt Jr. in the big league lineup. They brought back potential Hall of Famer Zack Greinke to bolster a starting rotation plagued by the growing pains of its young but uber-talented members.
But now, with Opening Day less than two weeks away, does Kansas City need a blockbuster deal to improve, or is it ready to take another step or two forward without further additions?
Behind the plate is one place the KC Royals don’t need to tinker for 2022.
Nowhere is this Kansas City team deeper than at catcher, where it needs to leave well enough alone. After all, no one else has Salvador Perez: entering his 11th major league season, the seven-time All-Star who boasts five Gold Gloves and four Silver Slugger awards is one of baseball’s premier catchers. The backbone of the team and owner of the richest contract in club history isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Backing Perez up is Cam Gallagher, one of the better defensive reserve catchers in the game. And knocking on the door (or beating it down?) is MJ Melendez, a power-hitting on-base machine (41 homers and a .386 OBP in the minors last season) and MLB Pipeline’s No. 2 KC prospect who’ll get some time behind the plate and elsewhere this year as the club searches for ways to fit him into an already crowded lineup.
So, as far as deals go, the Royals don’t need to make one involving catchers.