KC Royals: 3 players who'll be better in 2023 and 2 who won't

Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Daniel Lynch
Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Daniel Lynch / Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
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Worse: Starting pitcher Zack Greinke

FanGraphs Projections: 26 starts, 7-8, 4.19 ERA, 1.1 WAR

While Lynch is the present and future of the Royals' pitching staff, veteran starting pitcher Zack Greinke is more the past than the present.

The veteran exceeds 18 service years in the MLB, a rare feat seen in modern baseball. Greinke's career is very much tied to the Royals' best and worst seasons as a franchise. The team was so bad that Greinke, a 2009 Cy Young winner, forced his way out of Kansas City. But, Kansas City's trade return netted key players like outfielder Lorenzo Cain and shortstop Alciedes Escobar, both former All-Stars when the Royals won the World Series. That champsionship run likely never happens if Greinke stays in Kansas City.

On the flip side, Greinke travelled from team to team, earning his millions yet never winning a World Series himself. The future Hall of Famer had successful stints with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros, but his peaks there never timed well with the team's championship aspirations. His return to Kansas City last offseason very much felt like a retirement move, making sure his career ended wit hthe team that drafted him in 2002.

In 2022, Greinke was nowhere near his former self, but he was still the Royals' best and safest pitcher. It would not be surprising for him to reprise that role in 2023. But his performance has steadily declined since 2019. While his ERA improved last year, his put-away pitches are gone, and he relies on his infield defense to prevent runners. With suspect defense at third base and a young infield altogether, the 39-year-old pitcher's 2023 performance could be more volatile than anticipated.