The KC Royals are, if nothing else this offseason, consistent. They continue to shy away from big free agent signings and trades, opting instead to hang out at market fringes, add only incrementally to a needy roster, and bolster their substandard pitching with middle-of-the-road hurlers.
And while Kansas City plods through the baseball winter, other clubs are making key moves. Some will likely hurt, and others help, the Royals.
In a move that won't help the KC Royals, Minnesota coaxed a key player back.
Sooner or later, the unprecedented on-again-off-again free agent journey of Carlos Correa had to end. Notwithstanding medical reports that scuttled his apparent agreements with the Giants and then the Mets, some club was going to sign him. And that's just what happened Wednesday when the Twins convinced Correa, who left them for free agency after last season, to return.
That's bad news for the Royals. Now, instead of facing Correa only three times, the number of games KC will play against most National League clubs under MLB's new scheduling approach, they'll see him 14 times. Correa certainly likes Kansas City pitching: he's slashing .293/.373/.483 with nine homers and 29 RBIs in 54 games against the Royals, and clubbed three of those homers and batted .338 with a .417 OBP against them last year. Coming back to the American League Central ensures he'll get plenty of chances to add to those good numbers.
A Kansas City foe is heading for the NL, and that should help the KC Royals.
While Carlos Correa likes Royal pitching, Nelson Cruz loves it. Cruz, an 18-year big league veteran, makes it his business to punish KC every chance he gets: his 105-game line against the Royals is .277/.362/.579, and he's homered against them 31 times,
Fortunately for Kansas City, seven-time All-Star and four-time Silver Slugger winner Cruz will spend 2023 in the National League. He's signed a one-year deal with San Diego, which means Royal pitchers must deal with him only three times.
A pitcher who could have helped the KC Royals will pitch against them in 2023.
Only a month ago, we suggested Kansas City might do well to pursue Corey Kluber, a Tampa Bay free agent who could have immediately improved the Royal rotation. Whether the club had any interest in signing Kluber is, however, moot: he's joining the Red Sox.
Luring Kluber to Kansas City would have been a coup for general manager J.J. Picollo. Kluber is an excellent hurler with a 113-71, 3.31 ERA career record, and eliminating his opportunity to pitch against the Royals would have been a bonus because he's 12-7 with a 3.38 ERA in 26 starts against them. How many appearances he gets against the Royals in the six games his Red Sox play them remains to be seen, but one is probably too many to suit KC.
At least three other clubs have made moves that can directly impact the Royals.