Did Bobby Witt Jr. signing save Royals' free agency grade from The Athletic?

New York Yankees v Kansas City Royals
New York Yankees v Kansas City Royals / Ed Zurga/GettyImages

Kansas City Royals pitchers and catchers report next week, on Feb. 14, which means that we're just a few short weeks away from Opening Day. The Royals will kick things off at Kauffman Stadium in the first of a three-game set against the division rival Twins. New Royals include Seth Lugo and Michael Wacha, imported all the way from San Diego, Hunter Renfroe, and Adam Frazier — all products of KC's surprising spending spree this offseason.

Ahead of Opening Day, though, let's take a look back at the Royals' offseason. Some of the largest sports outlets have already weighed in on the state of things in Kansas City, with CBS Sports and FOX Sports both giving the Royals B grades for their additions this offseason, though those were released prior to the team extending Bobby Witt Jr. Both outlets were excited about what the new additions would look like in Kansas City, but still harbored some reservations about how they could crawl out of the fifth-place hole.

The Athletic was the next to weigh in; they dropped their grades on Thursday morning (subscription required). They were much more conservative with their A grades (only the Dodgers and Orioles got A's, while four teams got A's from CBS and FOX), but they also gave the Royals a B.

Bobby Witt Jr.'s extension might've saved the KC Royals from an unfair grade from The Athletic

The Athletic puts the Royals in the same category as the Diamondbacks, Reds, Tigers, Astros, Yankees, and Phillies. There are a few notable snubs: the Braves got a C from The Athletic but A's from both CBS and FOX, and the Yankees also got higher ratings. You could definitely also quibble with a few of the B grades (the Phillies re-signed Aaron Nola but haven't done much else). Still, the Royals might've saved themselves from a downgrade from The Athletic by extending Witt, arguably the crowning jewel of their offseason. Their grade-justifying blurb does name-check Witt and his extension as a standout accomplishment for the team.

The Royals have a ways to go to improve on the field after the devastation of their 106-loss season last year, but they did an admirable amount of work this offseason and it's refreshing to see major baseball outlets acknowledge that. Witt will be at the center of a KC team that hopefully has a new groove in 2024, one that could motivate them to put the AL Central in a stranglehold in years to come.