Keep Bobby Witt Jr. happy, extension or not.
Most of the fanbase rightfully wants a lengthy extension for Witt, securing a generational talent in Kansas City for the first time in a very long time. But, whether an extension happens or not, the Royals need to keep the man happy if they want him to be here and the fans to invest.
Do I know what would make Witt happy? No, I am not going to claim that I know for sure. After all, Witt is a person, and every person is different. But there are some reasonable measures that Kansas City can take that could have affected their offseason plans already.
First and foremost, keep the core that Witt came up with through the minor leagues. The last winning Royals teams developed the chemistry that they developed by winning in the minor leagues and then transitioning together to The Show. Witt, drafted in 2019, likely has some players with whom he has developed real relationships and made the losses over the past two seasons bearable. Witt did not have years to develop those relationships, playing only 123 minor-league games in 2021. He still shared the field on the farm with several current Royals.
Secondly, the front office and ownership need to show Witt they are willing to commit resources to improving the team. They have unequivocally done that this offseason, raising the team's floor considerably. Some franchises will lock up a special talent long-term, then expect them to carry a squad on their own. The best superstars have a quality cast, but team leadership needs to show they can do that with results on the field.
I wonder if the excessive player options in recent free-agent deals have something to do with that. The Royals are bringing in a big influx of talent, all addressing issues from the previous season. If they do not gel well, immediately or later on down the line, the players have the option to move on. But extending a special player like Witt would likely help entice those players, and more, to don a Royals uniform.
Lastly, keeping the organization's vibe positive can go a long way. There is a way to hold players accountable and push them to be their best without doing it toxically. Witt is a competitor. Fans see that in his actions, hidden behind a reserved voice in locker interviews. This rolls in with the previous point a bit, but treating players like adults and expecting them to perform to the MLB level can go a long way in keeping the higher-echelon players happy.
I am sure there are some minute things the team can do to keep Witt and other players happy. But even if they do not want to make him happy with a new contract, there are some things they can control.