KC Royals free agency additions scream trade deadline firesale again in 2024

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The KC Royals have been one of the surprising winners of an offseason when only seven teams have spent over $50 million and eight have yet to spend a single cent. In November and December, the Royals have signed Garrett Hampson, Will Smith, Seth Lugo, Chris Stratton, Michael Wacha, and Hunter Renfroe to one- or two-year deals (Lugo, Wacha, and Renfroe's with player options), making good on their professed intention to spend around $30 million dollars on free agent pitchers while also picking up a couple of offensive additions along the way.

Clearly, the Royals believe they'll be able to make a run at the AL Central next year, despite the Twins still being favorites to take the division, the Guardians always a wild card, and the Tigers making some notable offseason additions themselves. It'll be easy to tell if the moves the Royals have made are paying off early into the season, but surely we'll know by the trade deadline on Aug. 1, when they might have some tough decisions to make.

Royals free agency additions scream trade deadline firesale again in 2024

This year, Kansas City traded four players on or around the trade deadline, when their record was 33-75: Nicky Lopez on July 30, Jose Cuas on July 31, and Scott Barlow and Ryan Yarbrough on Aug. 1, dumping Lopez's $3.7 million contract, Barlow's $5.3 million, and Yarbrough's $3 million. If the team doesn't fare much better before the deadline in 2024, we could see a similar dump of any of their six new offseason acquisitions.

The new Royals contracts represent $47 million on their payroll in 2024, with smaller incentives built into Smith, Wacha, and Renfroe's deals. Their short lengths and relative affordability are not only good for the players, who might not want to stay if the team keeps losing but will be able to make some money while they do it, but it's good for the Royals, too. If things head south for Kansas City before August, players with short contracts and fewer millions of dollars owed to them will be easier to shop.

Hopefully, the team will be able to make real progress this season to avoid any scrambling at the deadline while motivating those with options to stay in Kansas City for a year more than they're contractually obligated to.

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