Welcome to the first of many Kings of Kauffman offseason updates. Like many of our sister FanSided baseball sites, we’ll be using this format regularly to keep fans up to date on what the KC Royals are, and aren’t, doing to improve the club. So, keep an eye on this space. We’ll keep you posted.
Few major league teams need more offseason alteration than the Royals, whose 65-97 record enabled them to avoid a 100-loss season, but not last place in the American League Central.
The Royals are young, green, and not good. Youthful talent is abundant (think Bobby Witt Jr., Brady Singer, Vinnie Pasquantino, MJ Melendez, and Drew Waters) but in almost every instance requires refinement. Only Singer should be guaranteed a spot in the starting rotation (unless, of course, the Royals and Zack Greinke get together, as they should, on a new deal), the Scott Barlow-led bullpen needs more reliable arms, and even the best Royal hitters must find more ways to get on base and drive each other in.
So, there are moves to be made, shoring up to be done. Necessary change began two months ago when the club let Dayton Moore go and gave more control to J.J. Picollo.
Picollo didn’t hesitate to begin reshaping the team. It made little sense for him to fire manager Mike Matheny or pitching coach Cal Eldred with only a couple of weeks left in the season, but both were gone within a few hours of Kansas City’s season finale. Picollo hired Matt Quatraro to replace Matheny and the club’s search for Eldred’s successor is set to begin in earnest next week.
Now, with teams free to make trades and sign free agents, Picollo, who may prove quicker on the personnel move trigger than Moore, can go about the task of retooling his roster. Expect a modest free agent signing or two, and also some trades. He’ll be guided in part by some key dates and deadlines.
Important offseason dates for the KC Royals to remember.
Teams have been allowed since Sunday to make trades, but can only negotiate with and sign their own free agents until tomorrow (Nov. 10), which is also the deadline for clubs to exercise team options and players to exercise theirs. Other teams also have until tomorrow to extend Qualifying Offers, but because Greinke is KC’s only free agent and isn’t eligible to receive a QO because the Dodgers extended him one in 2015, the Royals don’t have to concern themselves with the matter.
But what other deadlines apply to the club?
- Nov. 15: 40-man roster decisions. Picollo and his staff have until next Tuesday to set Kansas City’s 40-man roster for Rule 5 Draft purposes. Anyone eligible for the draft who isn’t on that roster can be taken by other clubs. This year’s draft is scheduled for Dec. 7.
- Nov. 17: Contract tender deadline. The Royals have until next Thursday to tender 2023 contracts to their 10 arbitration-eligible players (more on them in a moment). Non-tendered players immediately become free agents.
- Dec. 5-8: Winter Meetings. Baseball’s annual gathering of top team executives, player agents, and others who wield influence over player compensation and careers, returns after an unfortunate one-year absence occasioned by the game’s more unfortunate lockout. The General Managers Meeting started Tuesday and runs through tomorrow, but it’s the Winter Meetings where much of the trade and free agent action can take place.
- Jan. 13: Arbitration proposals. Players and clubs must exchange proposed salaries in unresolved arbitration cases. Any cases that still remain unsettled will go to hearings beginning Jan. 30.
KC Royals projected 2023 payroll situation.
Spotrac projects Kansas City will have $69,548,150 in player contract obligations for next season. That gives the Royals significant room within which to maneuver and bring more players aboard, and possibly extend one or more contracts.
KC Royals eligible for arbitration.
KC has 10 arbitration-eligible players. Here are the salary awards Major League Baseball Trade Rumors projects for them if they don’t settle their cases:
- Brad Keller, $7 million
- Scott Barlow, $4.9 million
- Nicky Lopez, $3.4 million
- Adalberto Mondesi, $3 million
- Brady Singer, $2.9 million
- Amir Garrett, $2.6 million
- Kris Bubic, $1.8 million
- Taylor Clarke, $1.5 million
- Ryan O’Hearn, $1.5 million
- Josh Staumont, $1 million
Look for the Royals to non-tender one or more of these players, in which case their projections are moot.
KC Royals transactions to date.
Yet to add any players, Kansas City lost two relief pitchers last week to waiver claims. Seattle took Luke Weaver and Arizona grabbed Tyler Zuber.
KC Royals rumors.
Things are pretty quiet on the Kansas City rumor front. But we’ll report the strong ones as they surface.
Top KC Royals prospects.
The Royals could decide to offer up prospects on this winter’s trade block. Here are the first 10 of MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 KC prospects at the moment and what minor league level they reached in 2022:
- 1. Gavin Cross, OF (A)
- 2. Ben Kudrna, P (A)
- 3. Cayden Wallace, 3B (A)
- 4. Nick Loftin, OF (Triple-A)
- 5. Maikel García, SS (Kansas City)
- 6. Frank Mozzicato, P (A)
- 7. Drew Waters, OF (Kansas City)
- 8. Tyler Gentry, OF (Double-A)
- 9. Beck Way, P (High-A)
- 10. Asa Lacy, P (Double-A)
That’s it for our first Hot Stove update. Check back frequently for more.