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Don’t expect many juicy Royals rumors flying around the baseball world this offseason just because a new owner is taking over.
The Kansas City Royals will be under new ownership for the first time in two decades when John Sherman takes the helm sometime this offseason. With the club still amid a long rebuilding process, don’t look for many exciting Royals rumors between now and the beginning of spring training.
General manager Dayton Moore and the Glass family have been on a steady path toward rebuilding this club’s competitiveness for two years now. It seems to be much longer than that.
After back-to-back Fall Classic appearances in 2014 and 2015, and a World Series Championship for their efforts, the Royals tried to stay relevant in the two years following their successes. They won 81 games in 2016 and 80 in 2017.
With the departures of stars like Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain, the brass knew they would need to start to look down the road. They re-signed Mike Moustakas on the cheap before the 2018 season but traded him mid-season to Milwaukee. The glory days were behind the team.
The Royals have holes aplenty, especially in the bullpen, the top end of the rotation, and possibly the outfield. It just doesn’t make sense, however, for them to spend much money on players for this season when there is little chance they will be competitive in 2020.
The upcoming season will be more about seeing if any of their current young players can step forward and improve and be legitimate pieces of the puzzle for 2021 and beyond. Barring any trades of established players like Whit Merrifield, Salvador Perez, Adalberto Mondesi, Jorge Soler, and Danny Duffy, the Royals have a solid foundation from which to build. They also have several other players to evaluate next season.
There is little doubt Hunter Dozier, Nicky Lopez, Jakob Junis, and Brad Keller will be on the roster, but the Royals would like to see them at least match their 2019 performances and, hopefully, improve on them.
Players such as Cheslor Cuthbert, Ryan McBroom, Bubba Starling, Ryan O’Hearn, Brett Phillips, Glenn Sparkman, Scott Barlow, Eric Skoglund, and Jorge Lopez need to prove they belong on an MLB roster that can contend in 2021.
Of course, the Royals have a handful of young arms about whom fans can be excited. If even one or two of the group – Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar, Kris Bubic, and Daniel Lynch – can develop into a top of the rotation type pitcher, it will be a boon for the Royals.
There is a chance Khalil Lee could work his way to the big league club at some point, especially if Alex Gordon retires or doesn’t re-sign with the Royals, or if Phillips, Starling, or McBroom can’t turn their respective corners.
The Royals also have to decide what to do with Danny Duffy. He’s never made more than 28 starts in a season, never pitched more than 180 innings in a year, and hasn’t had an ERA under 3.85 since 2017. For his career, his ERA as a reliever is 2.08 in a limited 34.1 innings in that role, but his ERA is 4.04 as a starter.
Maybe his future is in the bullpen, and he can carve out a successful niche there from here on out. Unfortunately, that leaves another hole in the rotation after Junis and Keller.
What does this mean for Royals rumors over the next three months? Probably nothing exciting. Moore will do what he always does – look for inexpensive, veteran relievers who still might have something in the tank. He’ll see what retread starters might fall in price that he can grab to bridge the gap between the current stable of question mark starters and the young guns readying themselves in the minors.
He might add a fourth or fifth outfielder in case Starling, Phillips, and McBroom crash and burn during spring training. Basically, just more of the same old Dayton Moore budget signings, which is not very exciting for fans.
The Royals in 2020 are going to look very similar to the 2019 version. They won only 58 games in 2018 and 59 in 2019, but don’t expect too many more than this season. Fans have to be patient and the veterans have to stay healthy and productive. The borderline players need to prove themselves MLB-worthy, and some of the average players have to show overall improvement.
The Royals do not want to rush the younger talent if they don’t need to, but it would also be helpful for them to get some major league playing time under their belts if they earn it. It is possible to see the likes of maybe Lee and Singer get their first taste of the bigs next season but most of the other top prospects are probably at least a full year away.
Big moves and big signings are always exciting for teams and the fans, and the speculation leading up to those kinds of moves is always thrilling. Unfortunately, there won’t be many scintillating Royals rumors this offseason as Kansas City continues to try to rebuild internally. There will be a handful of new signings, but nothing that will get the pulse racing.
The biggest Royals rumors will probably be about players the team might be looking to trade away. Other teams will probably be interested in Merrifield, and maybe Soler. Even Ian Kennedy might draw some interest. Trading players away isn’t near as exciting as adding players but it might be the only amusement fans will get this offseason.
Hang in there, Kansas City!