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After a breakout year from the Kansas City Royals current third baseman, it is unlikely anyone else will take his position.
As these positional battle pieces continue for the Kansas City Royals, it’s likely there are some spots that really won’t have much of a battle at all. There will typically though, always be some possible contenders, even if they will simply sit the bench until they are needed.

One such position on for the Royals is third base. The Royals look to have third base locked down, with Hunter Dozier standing strong. With a lot of unknowns coming up for the Royals, though, it never hurts to take a look and see who might be standing in line if the team decides to shake things up.

The Royals have been doing a lot of experiments with moving players between the infield and outfield, and if they continue, they could lose their third baseman to the outfield canyon of Kauffman Stadium. If this is the case, the Royals may be limited on who they could bring in as a replacement.

While there are not a lot of options that stand out, there are some players the Royals could turn to if needed during the 2020 season. A few of these players were seen during the 2019 season but unfortunately did not leave a huge mark. It also never hurts to take a look at what is available in free agency. If there is a deal worth it, Dozier might find his way to the outfield a little quicker.

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Four years after winning the World Series, the Royals cycled back into the depths of the AL Central, losing 100 games for the second straight season. After ten years on the job, manager Ned Yost retired following the season.

Perennial personnel losses are standard in Kansas City, which has the third-smallest media market and the second-smallest population base. The off-season is a time for smart shopping.

What’s on tap this off-season? Check out Forbes’ full MLB off-season preview, with best-case scenarios and worst-case scenarios for all 30 teams.

Off-Season Priorities
It all starts at the top, and general manager Dayton Moore — who orchestrated the moves that drove the Royals to consecutive World Series appearances in 2015-16 — has kept his options close to the vest regarding Yost’s replacement.

Former St. Louis manager Mike Matheny appears to be the top candidate, although the Royals reportedly also have interviewed quality control/catching coach Pedro Grifol and bullpen coach Vance Wilson. (Moore did not confirm that to reporters.)

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Matheny turned down an opportunity interview for the Mets’ vacancy, the New York Post reported, and served as an advisor in the Royals’ player development department last season.

A smart baseball man, Matheny is a former catcher whose 13-year pro career was cut short because of concussions. He was 591-474 in 6 1/2 seasons as the Cardinals’ manager but was replaced in the summer of 2018 as the team was in the process of missing the playoffs for the fifth straight year.

Giving Machines Continue To Light The World
“I do think managerial experience is important at some level,” Moore told the Kansas City Star. “It doesn’t mean that it’s an absolute must.”

Cardinals Reds Baseball
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The Royals received a career year from Jorge Soler in 2018, good years from All-Star Whit Merrifield and Hunter Dozier and a passable season from Adalberto Mondesi, but the rest of the offense needs retooling.

First base could use an upgrade, and Alex Gordon is nearing the end of the line and is said to be considering retiring. The young starting staff did not markedly improve.

Top Priority: Hiring a manager to help oversee the decisions in the trade and free agent markets. If Matheny gets the job, pitching coach Cal Eldred is expected to remain on the staff.

Decision Time
Like many small-market teams, the Royals do not have a lot of off-season free agent/contract decisions on their own players because most are too young to have reached the advanced stages of arbitration. But there are a few.

Jorge Soler can opt out of the final year of his contract, worth $4 million in 2020, to enter arbitration, and he certainly will after a monster year in which he slashed .265/.354/.922 with 48 homers and 117 RBIs. Those numbers could earn him somewhere in the $10 million-$11 million range this winter … and could entice the Royals to offer him a long-term deal, even though he strikes out a lot and is a minus-defender in the outfield.

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The Royals hold a $23 million mutual option with a $4 million buyout on left fielder Alex Gordon, an option the team certainly will decline. Gordon is 35, and after a strong start lost a lot of his punch as the 2018 season wound down, finishing with a .741 OPS, 13 homers and 76 RBIs.

Mike Montgomery, Cheslor Cuthbert and Jesse Hahn are entering their second year of arbitration eligibility, and Montgomery is likely the only one who will go through the process. Hahn is a non-tender candidate after appearing in only six games since 2017 because of injuries. He and Cuthbert could expect seven-figure arbitration awards, too high for their value.

Offseason shoulder surgery on Mondesi could lead to adding infield depth.

Likeliest To Leave: Gordon and Hahn. Gordon, the second player taken in the 2005 draft, has had a long and distinguished career as a two-way left fielder, but Father Time is a mother.

Hot Stove Agenda
Ian Kennedy made a remarkable career-switch in 2019, going from a run-of-the-mill starter to 30-save closer in his first year in the bullpen. A Scott Boras client, Kennedy is to make $16.5 million in the final year of his contract in 2020. That’s far too high for a closer here, so expect the Royals to entertain offers, even if only for a minor league prospect or two. Jake Diekman is a target to return to the bullpen.

Affordable starting pitching is always a target. Brad Keller has worked out well after signing as a Rule 5 pick in 2018. Free agent pitchers such as Marco Estrada, Jeremy Hellickson, Wade Miley, Miles Mikolas and Tanner Roark are the value-types that the Royals could consider. Miley was left off Houston’s World Series roster and would be ready for a change.

Rookie Bubba Starling became an outfield regular in the final months, when rookie infielder Nicky Lopez also was given a lot of time, and the Royals are like to ride those youngsters again rather than search from without. Merrifield is expected to move the outfield, which would make Lopez and Mondesi the double play combination.

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Top Target: Miles Mikolas, who had a strong season for Mike Matheny when the two were together in St. Louis for much of 2018.

Best-Case Scenario
The Royals sign Soler to a long-term deal, choosing his big bat over his liabilities; they add a Mikolas/Miley-type starter to enrich the rotation; and catcher Salvador Perez makes his expected return after missing 2019 following Tommy John surgery to stabilize the lineup and add a veteran clubhouse presence.

Worst-Case Scenario
The Royals cannot find a taker for Kennedy, who eats up so much of their salary pool that they are hamstrung in other areas. They fail to add a rotation upgrade.

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As expected, the Royals will decline a $23 million mutual option for Alex Gordon, instead opting to buy him out for $3.5 million and making him a free agent, according to reporter Jon Heyman. (Update: The Royals have made it official). Gordon could still return on a new contract. He has said he plans to decide this off-season whether he wants to play another season. The Royals have not given an indication whether they would want to bring him back.

Gordon rebounded with the bat in 2019, posting a 96 wRC+, his highest number since 2015. The 35-year old hit .266/.345/.396 with 13 home runs, 31 doubles, and 51 walks in 150 games. He has been a disappointment offensively since signing his four-year, $72 million contract before the 2016 season, hitting .237/.320/.366 over that time.

Despite a slumping bat, Gordon has still contributed with his glove. He is fifth among all outfielders in UZR since 2016 and has been worth 2.9 WAR combined over the past two seasons, according to Fangraphs. Gordon has won six Gold Gloves, including awards the last two seasons, and is a finalist again this season.

If the Royals bring Alex Gordon back, it will probably be on a one-year deal worth between $4-8 million. He has already said that the Royals are the only team he wants to play for, which cuts his leverage quite a bit. But he is also very close with General Manager Dayton Moore – Alex wrote the forward for Dayton’s book More Than a Season – so I would not expect much of a stand-off over salary.

The Royals already have Jorge Soler, Whit Merrifield, Brett Phillips, and Bubba Starling in their outfield, and prospect Khalil Lee could be ready at some point next season. Alex Gordon could provide a good role model for the younger players, although he has never been known as a hands-on leader in the clubhouse. And any at-bats given to Gordon next year might be better used on evaluating younger players who are more likely to be part of the future in Kansas City. Gordon has not given a timetable for his decision, and earlier this summer he said he was leaning towards returning.

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Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander will go down as one of the best regular season pitchers of this generation. But when it comes to the World Series, Verlander’s brilliance vanishes– in fact, this year, he’s the perfect opposite of Washington’s Stephen Strasburg, who’s now an amazing 5-0 in the 2019 playoffs following his team’s 7-2 victory in Game 6.

The American League Cy Young contender had the chance to flip the script Tuesday night and wipe away the L he took in Game 2 up against Strasburg. However, much like Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers, JV added to the misery by surrendering three runs on five hits (two solo home runs) in five innings pitched against the Washington Nationals.

Stephen Strasburg of the @Nationals is the first pitcher to toss at least 8.0 innings on the road when facing elimination in the #WorldSeries since the Royals’ Danny Jackson threw a CG in 1985 Game 5 at St. Louis.#STAYINTHEFIGHT

— Stats By STATS (@StatsBySTATS) October 30, 2019
His counterpart in a Washington uniform? He went 8.1 innings and gave up just two earned on five hits, striking out seven.

Verlander’s postseason simply continues, and at the absolute worst time. In seven World Series appearances between Houston and Detroit, he now owns an unsightly 5.68 ERA and an 0-5 record.

Justin Verlander career #WorldSeries stats:
38 IP, 5.68 ERA, 1.290 WHIP, 0-5 W-L (currently in line for 6th L tonight) pic.twitter.com/Ar4BIdviSm

— Baseball Reference (@baseball_ref) October 30, 2019
Unlike Kershaw, in the ALDS and ALCS, Verlander’s regular season stuff shows up, much to the dismay of his opposition. But once it comes to the Fall Classic, Verlander struggles mightily, and nobody has an idea why.

Strasburg has had no such issues this year in the Nationals’ first-ever trip to the Series.

Stephen Strasburg, 94mph Fastball and 87mph Changeup, Overlay.

? pic.twitter.com/Qm40HAttq9

— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 30, 2019
While Justin Verlander is bound to enter the Baseball Hall of Fame one day, the dark cloud surrounding his career will be his World Series struggles. And his disappearance in the clutch, juxtaposed with the Nats pitching staff’s incredible showings, is the most powerful narrative of this series.

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Chosen in the 2nd round of the 2015 MLB Draft, Kansas City Royals right-hander Josh Staumont would like more big league action in 2020.
The number #24 prospect for the Royals, Josh Staumont, was a high pick for the Kansas City Royals in June of 2015 after a dominating season in which he struck out 109 batters in just 68 2/3 innings with Azusa Pacific University. He went on to pitch well for the Arizona Royals and Idaho Falls Chukars to close out the year with a combined 2.48 ERA and sat down 58 hitters on strikes in 40 frames.

Despite struggling in 2016 at the A+ level Wilmington Blue Rocks, where he was 2-10 with a 5.05 ERA, Staumont received a call to the Northwest Arkansas Naturals where he settled down in 11 starts lowering his ERA by two points and shaving 0.21 off of his WHIP. Further seasoning took place in the Arizona Fall League that year as he competed against other top prospects from around baseball. In seven starts his WHIP was a respectable 1.29 and once again he struck out more batters than total innings pitched.

2017 was split between the AA and AAA level as he made to the jump to Omaha mid-summer. Staumont had trouble adjusting to the Pacific Coast League and saw his ERA finish at over 6 at the highest level of minor league ball.

The next season saw progress as he transitioned into a bullpen role only making five starts in 41 total appearances. His ERA dropped to 3.51 as he spent the entire year on the Storm Chasers roster.

Kansas City Royals

@Royals
We have recalled RHP Josh Staumont from Omaha and designated RHP Wily Peralta for assignment. #Royals

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Playing a swingman role for Omaha in 2019, he started 12 games and came in relief for another 20. He posted his lowest WHIP since the AFL stint in 2016 while still blowing away batters with 74 K’s in 51 1/3 innings. Staumont received his first taste of the majors pitching in 16 games for the Kansas City Royals.

Whether or not Staumont can make a long-term stay in Kansas City remains to be seen. His live arm also produces too many walks to depend on him regularly. While he only gives up 0.6 home runs per nine innings in professional ball, his rate of 7.0 base-on-balls over the same amount of frames does not play well in any organization. Staumont actually lowered it to 4.7 with his short stint on the major league club and he will need to continue that downward trend to lock in a roster spot.

FOX Sports Kansas City

@FSKansasCity
Ned Yost on Josh Staumont: “He comes in and he’s pretty efficient with his pitch count. He’s banging strikes and making pitches. I’m really pleased with what I see from him.” #Royals

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His fastball has major life, during Staumont’s time with the Royals he averaged 96.1 MPH on the four-seam fastball. He threw that pitch 70% of the time and a change-up the remaining pitches but will need to develop another pitch or two to keep big league hitters from teeing off.

Although notorious for having success with players coming up to Kansas City in their late 20’s after multiple seasons in the minors, as Staumont enters his age-26 season and sixth go-round with professional baseball it is imperative he demonstrates the ability to command his pitches. If not, the Royals have many young arms climbing the ladder of success quickly who can bypass him.

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The Royals have announced they have signed infielder Matt Reynolds to a minor league contract. The 28-year old has three years of Major League experience with the Mets and Nationals, appearing in 127 games and hitting .223/.295/.340 with four home runs in 240 plate appearances. The right-handed hitter spent all of last year in Triple-A with the Nationals, hitting .295/.401/.521 with 16 home runs in the offensive-friendly Pacific Coast League.

Reynolds is a Tulsa, Oklahoma native who attended the University of Arkansas. He is capable of playing all over the field, appearing at first base, second base, shortstop, third base, and left and right field. He will likely compete for a job as a reserve infielder with Humberto Arteaga and Erick Mejia, among others. Reynolds could fill the same role that Chris Owings did last year, although with perhaps less upside, and if Reynolds is as bad as Owings was last year, at least the Royals won’t be out much money by removing Reynolds off the MLB roster.

This is the opposite of a sexy move by the Royals, but if they’re going to add players this winter, this is the way to do it. Find players that can fill holes and supplement the roster, but use minor league deals to maintain roster flexibility.

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DENVER — Brandon Crawford didn’t know he had a chance to join a couple of Hall of Famers when he came up with the bases loaded in the ninth inning Monday afternoon. All he knew was that he was facing something he hadn’t previously seen in the big leagues.

Crawford dug in and looked up at Mark Reynolds, a first baseman who was asked to mop it up on the mound in the ninth inning of the Giants’ 19-2 win at Coors Field. Reynolds was the first position player Crawford had faced in the big leagues.

“It was a weird feeling,” Crawford said. “But it’s bases loaded, one out — it’s still an at-bat that counts.”

Crawford made sure of that, bouncing a single up the middle to drive in two more runs. He finished with eight RBI, tying a San Francisco Giants record previously shared by Willie Mays and Orlando Cepeda. He became the first shortstop in MLB history to record five hits and eight RBI in one game. Crawford said the big day was due to his teammates.

“I hit with a lot of guys on base, that was nice,” he said. “The whole lineup contributed.”

That was rarely the case in the first three months of the season. But in the days leading up to the break, you could see Crawford, Buster Posey and other members of the core starting to turn it on, mixing in with Alex Dickerson, Austin Slater and other newcomers.

Crawford took a five-game hitting streak into the game and added three walks over the weekend in Milwaukee. The breakout came Monday. He homered in the first to help the Giants take a 5-0 lead and added a long shot to right in the sixth.

[RELATED: Breaking down red-hot Giants' historic game at the plate]

In one game, Crawford raised his average from .226 to .239. His OPS jumped from .654 to .695. That’s hard to do nearly 100 games into the season — unless you have the type of day that has you in the same company as Hall of Famers.

“I’ve been feeling good,” Crawford said. “I’m seeing the ball well. You expect to get hits when that happens.”

Brandon Crawford ties Giants record held by Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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In baseball parlance, the word “Ace” was used to describe a team’s number one starter. A guy that could be counted on to give 7+ innings every time out and stop losing streaks before they got out of hand. The Royals have had a few Aces in their past, guys like Steve Busby, Dennis Leonard, Bret Saberhagen, Kevin Appier and Zack Greinke. You can make a lessor case of David Cone, who was a true Ace, but unfortunately spent many of his best years in Toronto and New York. Cone posted a 27-19 mark in a little over two seasons with Kansas City, including winning the 1994 Cy Young Award. Despite his potential, and later production, the Royals brass felt it necessary to trade Cone, not once, but twice, for what was essentially a bucket of used baseballs. Their return included players with the names of Anderson, Gozzo, Hearn, Medrano, Sinnes and Stynes. I wish I were joking, but I’m not.

To take the Ace concept to a higher level, there are also true Aces. Hall of Fame Aces. Guys like Walter Johnson, Cy Young, Christy Mathewson, Bob Feller, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson and Tom Seaver. If a franchise can have one of those guys every generation, they are blessed.

When the Royals began operations in 1969, they spent heavy draft capital on young arms, looking for a guy who might be their Ace. Guys like Roger Nelson, Jim Rooker and Wally Bunker had potential to be that guy. From 1969 to 1973, the player who emerged from that draft and filled the role of Ace for the Royals turned out to be Dick Drago, who was selected with the 31st pick in the draft. Drago had narrowly missed making the roster of the Detroit Tigers in the 1968 campaign, which saw the Tigers defeat the St. Louis Cardinals for the World Series championship.

Drago grew up in Toledo, Ohio where as a youth, he was a Connie Mack All-Star. He caught the attention of scouts and the Detroit Tigers signed him to a free-agent contract in 1964. It was a dream come true for Drago, who rooted for the Tigers as a youth. In 1966, while pitching for the Tigers affiliate in Rocky Mount, N.C., Drago threw a seven-inning no-hitter against Greensboro. In the nightcap of the doubleheader, his roommate, Darrell Clark, threw another no-hitter. Based on my research, I believe this is the only time in baseball history where no-hitters were thrown in both games of a double header.

By 1968, Drago was pitching for his hometown team, the Toledo Mud Hens, where he won 15 games for the third consecutive season. The ’68 Tigers were loaded with pitching including 31 game winner Denny McLain and star lefty Mickey Lolich. Also, on that Detroit staff were future Royals Jim Rooker and Jon Warden as well as 40-year-old Roy Face, a late season acquisition who went 18-1 for the Pirates in 1959.

Detroit left Drago exposed in the 1968 expansion draft and Cedric Tallis selected him with the 31st pick. Said Drago, “I was playing winter ball in Puerto Rico when I found out I was going to Kansas City. I was shocked and disappointed. All I ever wanted to do was pitch for the Tigers. I was heartbroken. At the time I didn’t even know where Kansas City was. I fell in love with Kansas City. It was a beautiful place and it was a bunch of guys starting a whole new team. It really didn’t feel like you were on a big-league team, other than you were traveling and playing big league teams.”

Drago started the 1969 season in the bullpen, but soon moved into the starting rotation and became a workhorse for the Royals. He threw the first complete game in Kansas City history in his first start, a five hit, 3-2 win against the Angels on May 2nd, 1969. Drago threw nine complete games in that inaugural season and threw 53 complete games in his five-year Royal career, which still ranks as fifth best all-time. To show you how much times have changed, the Royals have had 54 complete games thrown in their last 15 ½ seasons. The high-water mark for pitchers has been the six complete games thrown by Zach Greinke in 2009.

Baseball people are obsessed with pitch counts, and probably for good reason. Has adhering to a strict pitch count helped save arms? I think it’s still up for debate. There still seems to be a fair number of pitchers who have Tommy John surgery in today’s game. Pitchers had arm trouble in the old days too. But there were also workhorses like Bob Feller, Tom Seaver, Bob Gibson and Nolan Ryan who between the four of them threw an astounding 987 complete games in their careers. I can almost assure you that had Ned Yost tried to remove Bob Gibson in the middle of the seventh inning to bring in someone like Brad Boxberger, Gibson might have assaulted Ned on the mound. Those pitchers were tough as nails and wanted to finish what they started.

The same can be said for Dick Drago. Drago was known for his great control. At one stretch in his career, from 1969 to 1973, he only threw 12 wild pitches in 921 innings. Drago said his philosophy was “to give seven strong innings every time out. I’m not trying to walk anybody. When I get to a 3-1 count, I didn’t try to finesse anyone. I won’t just lay the ball in there, but I might give up more of the plate and try to throw a little bit harder. I give up some singles that way, but not many long balls. Singles are no worse than walks. When they’re hitting the ball your defense at least has a chance to get the hitters out.”

Drago’s best year with the Royals came in 1971 when he went 17-11 in 241 innings pitched with a 2.98 ERA and 15 complete games. That was good enough to earn him a fifth-place finish in the Cy Young voting. The competition in 1971 was tough. Vida Blue won the Cy Young with his seminal 24-8 season, followed by Mickey Lolich, Wilbur Wood and Dave McNally, all 20 game winners.

Drago pitched nearly as well in 1972 with a 3.01 ERA and 11 complete games over 239 innings, but his won-loss record dropped to 12-17. As many baseball statisticians have pointed out in recent years, the reliance on won-loss records can be misleading. In that 1972 campaign, Drago lost six consecutive starts in which his teammates only scored nine runs. In fact, his run support was terrible the entire season. In those 17 losses, the Royals could only muster 30 runs for Drago. Hard to win with that kind of support. In fact a case can be made that Drago pitched as well in 1972 as he did in 1971. His innings pitched were nearly identical, yet he gave up 21 fewer hits in 1972 and struck out 26 more batters than he had in 1971. In those days, everything spun on the won-loss records and the Royals brass quietly speculated that Drago’s best days were behind him.

The 1972 season wasn’t an entire waste. On May 24th, Drago threw arguably the best game in Royals history, a game in which he lost, 1-0 to the Twins and Jim Kaat, who matched Drago pitch for pitch. Only 8,381 were in attendance at Municipal to see Drago throw 12 brilliant innings. Drago limited the powerful Twins to six hits while striking out 13 and only walking one. The Royals had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the 10th when Paul Schaal led off with a double. Manager Bob Lemon yosted himself by having the next batter, John Mayberry, sacrifice Schaal to third. Mayberry, who was just coming into his prime as a slugger, was successful with the bunt attempt, but the next two hitters, Ed Kirkpatrick and Drago, were unable to score Schaal. The Twins finally pushed across a run in the 12th when Danny Thompson led off the inning with a double and Rod Carew nicked Drago for a single to right field, scoring Thompson. The Royals had no answer in the 12th. The game scored a 98 which remains the highest scoring pitching game in Royals history. To illustrate how dominant Drago was that night, he had eight innings of three-up, three-down.

On September 1, 1972, Drago held Boston hit less for the first three innings before he took a line drive off the jaw from Carl “bleeping” Yastrzemski. Drago suffered a hairline fracture of his jaw and lost a tooth. Yastrzemski eventually scored in what became a 1-0 Royals loss. Drago missed one start, then came back to throw a complete game win on September 10th against the Twins.

Drago grew one of the all-time great mustaches while with the Royals. His teammates nicknamed him the Godfather. In 1973, Kansas City acquired another free spirit, Kurt Bevacqua. Drago and Bevacqua, in all of their ‘stache glory, quickly became known as the Bolivian Bandits, a nod to the popular movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

In 1973, Drago was one of many Royals to clash with new manager Jack McKeon. Drago was traded to the Boston Red Sox in October of 1973, straight up for another character, Marty Pattin. The trade was basically a wash in statistical terms. Drago pitched nine more seasons, mostly in relief, going 47-47 with 8 WAR. Pattin gave the Royals seven productive years, going 43-39 with 8.4 WAR. Drago did find success in the Red Sox bullpen, where he became their key fireman for the 1975 pennant winners. He also pitched the ninth, tenth and eleventh innings of the classic 1975 World Series game six, only allowing one hit to the powerful Cincinnati Reds. The Sox of course, won that game on a Carlton Fisk home run. You’ve maybe seen a replay of it.

Drago closed his Kansas City career with a record of 61-70 with a 3.52 ERA and 13.5 WAR. He still holds a place in the Royals top ten all-time in innings pitched, walks-per-nine innings, complete games, games started, shutouts thrown, career ERA, batters faced and FIP. He also holds the club record for most complete games without issuing a walk with five in his 1971 season. Drago also holds the distinction of giving up Hank Aaron’s 755th and final career home run in 1976. He said the toughest hitters he ever faced were Tony Oliva and George Brett. He had the most success against Milwaukee slugger Gorman Thomas, who went 0-22 against the Godfather.

Drago, always a fan favorite in Kansas City and Boston, retired after his 1981 season with the Seattle Mariners.

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Weekend Rumblings – News for November 16, 2019

Lynn Worthy reports that Dayton Moore will look at the free agent pitching market in his notes from the GM meetings.

“There’s a lot of championship-caliber starters on the market,” Moore said this week at the MLB general managers’ meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona. “We’re certainly going to explore that market. I can’t sit here and tell you that we’re going to be in a position to execute anything, but we’ll explore that market.”

Bradford Doolittle previews the Royals’ offseason for ESPN.

Well, clearly the Royals aren’t positioned to get splashy in the free-agent market. They have a roster full of maybe/could-be types whom they need to get more concrete information on in 2020. They have a few prospects who could start to bubble up to the majors next season as well. You don’t want to block anyone’s opportunity at this point.

So, should GM Dayton Moore and his staff stock up on Bermuda shorts and head for the Caribbean after next month’s winter meetings? Well, not quite. There is one area in which the Royals should be stocking up on buy-low types through the free-agent market: the bullpen.

Jeffrey Flanagan

@FlannyMLB
Also, there may be some national reports that the Royals will be limited financially under the new ownership. But sources indicate the Royals will not be handicapped in terms of potential long-term deals with players such as Jorge Soler, Hunter Dozier, Adalberto Mondesi, etc.

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Jonathan Mayo at MLB.com looks at the state of the Royals’ farm system.

Every prospect in the organizational top 10 came via the Draft, with seven of the 10 coming from the efforts in 2018 and 2019. Seuly Matias is the top-ranked international player at No. 11, as three of the next five (in the 11-15 set) were international amateur free agent signings….

The Royals had a stretch where they were more successful in developing homegrown pitching, but they’re back to being much more hitting-heavy these days, with only two arms in the top 10. There’s a lot of infield talent on the way, with eight of the top 15 playing on the dirt.

At Royals Academy, Clint Scoles scrutinizes the Royals’ exploits in free agency.

Lately, GMDM has focused on position and hasn’t found much in return as the Royals budget has them fishing in the pond that doesn’t get stocked. The team should be looking at building value positionally instead of at team needs. Last year they looked at centerfield and signed a weak-hitting speedy centerfielder in Billy Hamilton when the bargain of the offseason was probably Michael Brantley at a position the Royals didn’t see a need for. Could they have landed Brantley at the 2/31m the Astros did? Definitely not but at 31 he would have had considered hard if he should take a 3 or 4-year deal at 45 60m from the Royals.

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Michael Huckins at Kings of Kauffman considers Michael Pineda as a free agent target for the Royals.

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The Cubs have had long-term contract talks with Javier Baez.

The Yokohama BayStars have posted slugger Yoshitomo Tsutsugo.

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The Blue Jays are eyeing the starting pitching free agent market.

Mark Feinsand of MLB.com has his takeaways from the GM meetings this week.

Craig Edwards at Fangraphs looks at the worst baseball teams in history.

The Major League minimum salary will rise next year.

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It’s almost time for the KC Royals to call some extra players up for the final stretch of the season. Who deserves a call-up over the next few days?
It’s nearly September, Labor Day weekend is upon us and it is time for MLB Rosters to expand to 40 players. As of the morning of August 28th, the Kansas City Royals are 46 – 87, good enough for fourth place in the AL Central. It is time to empty out the toolbox and see which players will work for the future roster.

The Royals current 40-Man roster consists of 39 players, three of the 39 (C – Salvador Perez, SP – Trevor Oaks, SP – Jesse Hahn) are currently on the 60-day IL, which opens up four spots for September call-ups. When September rolls around the Royals are likely to call-up Heath Fillmyer, Richard Lovelady, Kelvin Gutiérrez, and Jorge Bonifacio; Each has made an appearance with the Royals already in 2019.

The following five players in the system haven’t seen time with the Royals in 2019 and have shown enough to warrant a September call-up:

FOSTER GRIFFIN (STARTING PITCHER)
The 24-year-old 6’3″ lefty has been arguably the best left handed starting pitcher in a battered and beaten AAA pitching landscape. In a year with the introduction of the MLB baseball into both the Pacific Coast League and International league, a league seeing record amounts home runs and runs have been scored.

Foster Griffin has been the most consistent LHP starter at the AAA level. Looking beyond the inflated era and WHIP, Griffin has pitched to a career low in line drive percentage while inducing a 48% groundball rate. He, like many of the pitchers in AAA, has been stricken by a gaudy HR to Fly Ball ratio, which is the highest of his career.

Griffin possesses two quality off-speed pitches in his curveball and change-up. He has deception in his mechanics to allow his low 90s fastball to be effective when his command is right. Currently Griffin doesn’t utilize his legs to drive off the rubber and with right tweaks to his mechanics he could add another 2-3 mph onto his fastball.

With the appropriate mixture of his pitches and locations, he could provide effectiveness at the MLB level. With the Royals looking for pitching to bridge the gap between the flood of pitching prospects looking to break in 2020 and beyond (Brady Singer, Daniel Lynch, Jackson Kowar, Kris Bubic, and Johnathan Bowlan), Griffin is eligible for the Rule 5 draft this December and is a solid choice for a September call-up to see if he is capable of getting big league hitters out.