Winter Meetings: Any blockbusters for the KC Royals?

(Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports) /

Baseball’s offseason centerpiece, its annual Winter Meetings, got underway Sunday evening in San Diego with the election of Fred McGriff to the Hall of Fame. No other significant news broke from the first of the Meetings’ four days, but if past is prologue, that will soon change, and KC Royals fans are waiting to see what the club might do during the typically transaction-rich confab.

We’ll soon see whether significant change comes to the club. General Manager J.J. Picollo has repeatedly put on the record his desire to make a veteran starting pitcher and veteran righthanded bat winter additions to a roster short on rotation strength and offense.

Will Picollo, working the Winter Meetings for the first time without Dayton Moore at his side, engineer any blockbuster moves before the Meetings end Wednesday?

After recently taking care of some other important business, the answer is “Perhaps.”

With some other matters resolved, the KC Royals can focus more on players.

Fans are, as always, eager for bombshell deals they believe will immediately thrust the Royals back into contention. Although none have materialized yet, all signs indicate Picollo has been focused on the right things since the Oct. 5 end to another dismal season. It took Picollo just hours to axe manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred, a little over three weeks to replace Matheny with Matt Quatraro, and another month to secure the services of new pitching coach Brian Sweeney. And it looks like the hiring of an assistant pitching coach is imminent.

Lost in that important shuffle, though, was what KC fans want most—news of new game-changing players.

But that’s really OK. Because pitching is his club’s biggest need, Picollo correctly chose to hire a new manager, new pitching coach, and an assistant to the latter so he and the new pitching brain trust could huddle and get on the same page before commencing what needs to be a serious and successful search for rotation and bullpen help.

With that work done, the Royals can turn their attention to roster concerns.

The Winter Meetings will give the KC Royals chances to make major moves.

In-person Winter Meetings convened Sunday for the first time since 2019, which may make this gathering of the game’s executives, agents, influencers, and even players pretty robust. Expect some major trades and free agent signings.

But will the Royals involve themselves in those big deals?

Probably not. Although Picollo wants that starting pitcher and that righty hitter, he’s already suggested this won’t be the winter he spends a lot of money. As he told KC beat writer Anne Rogers last month:

"“We’re operating right now near capacity with what we want to spend, but that’s where we need to be open-minded in how we can manage and free up some money to change the look of the team a little bit,” Picollo said. “[Royals owner] John {Sherman] has told me, ‘Let’s understand where we are as a team right now, and when the time is right for us to add to the payroll, we’ll do that.'”"


"“It’s going to ebb and flow a little bit, but with where we’re at as a team right now, adding an extra $20 million isn’t going to put us at the top. There are other things we need to take care of first before we make that push with the payroll.”"

That’s Picollo strongly implying KC doesn’t plan to push its financial envelope this winter and probably won’t contend in 2023.

Never, then, was there any chance of the Royals trying to fill Picollo’s needs list by chasing top free agent pitchers like Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, Jacob deGrom (in fact, Kershaw and deGrom have already signed), or a big righthanded bat like Aaron Judge. Current Kansas City conditions and the club’s historically tight fists preclude such folly.

But that doesn’t mean Picollo will leave San Diego empty-handed. San Diego free agent pitcher (and formal Royal prospect) Sean Manaea, for example, who we recently mentioned as a possible KC target, won’t break the franchise bank.

The Royals should also be pursuing the chance to bring back pitcher Zack Greinke, who ought to be available at an affordable price.

More. KC should re-sign Zack Greinke. light

And cost-effective bats abound on the free agent and trade markets.

So, will Picollo pull the trigger on any deals this week? Possibly, but no moves the Royals make at this year’s Winter Meetings will be blockbusters.

Next. Grading Nicky Lopez. dark

The Winter Meetings have started. What might Kansas City do?