Category Archives: Royals Jerseys 2019

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In my last article, I wrote that the Royals could target Martin Perez as a free agent. The idea was both that he could be likely be had for very cheap on a multi-year deal, and could eat innings if healthy.

I confess that was not one of my more inspiring ideas, but a rebuilding team doesn’t always have the luxury to do “inspired”. I also wanted to get that one out of the way so I could write about Julio Teheran.

Julio Teheran was once a top prospect in the Braves system. He ranked as high as 10th on mlb’s top 50, and dominated at the various levels of the minors. He never reached the “Ace” status he was expected to, but has carved out a solid living as a middle rotation, durable innings eater since coming to the majors.

He reached the majors in 2011, but didn’t stick until 2013, and has averaged over 190 innings pitched per season (and at least 30 starts) since. His best season came in 2014, where he posted a 2.89 ERA over 221 innings, earning 3.4 fWAR. He features a full four-pitch mix, fastball, slider, curve and change-up, though he throws his fastball/slider combination over 80% of the time. He saw a slight uptick in his K/9 last season, but paired it with an uptick in BB/9.

The Royals rotation struggled to eat innings last season. Glenn Sparkman threw the third-most innings of any Royals pitcher last season with 136, so Teheran could bring some much needed stability to the rotation, while also likely being an upgrade over most of their options. He also provides some of the much coveted “veteran presence” that the Royals front office has long espoused as important.

He’s consistent, young (29 next season) and not injury prone. He’s been roughly an average pitcher (about 2 fWAR per season) since 2013, and has made two All-Star appearances. This seem like the kind of pitcher that would be firmly outside the Royals price range. And perhaps he will be.

But MLBTraderumors seems to think he could be had at a reasonable rate. They project him to get a 2 year/$18 million pact. With this kind of AAV and years, it seems very reasonable that a team like the Royals, who have both an immediate and long-term need for a pitcher to eat innings, as well as some financial flexibility in the coming seasons, could scoop him up on a longer deal.

Given his health and consistency, as well as his young age, I’d be willing to offer him as much as a 5 year deal. However I think the Royals should start at something along the lines of 3 years, $26 million. At the risk of another Ian Kennedy situation, I might max out at something like 5 years, $45 million, with an opt-out at the 3 year mark.

There’s little doubt that the Royals need more pitching in 2020, and beyond. It’s downright ludicrous to believe that a full playoff rotation will emerge from Keller, Junis and the prospects in the pipeline. Signing a veteran like Teheran to a long term deal sends a message that the Royals are serious about improving next year, and contending in the near-term. That’s the kind of message we as Royals fans would love to receive.

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A midseason trade brought the Kansas City Royals a veteran and versatile player who helped them to the 2015 World Series title. Four years later, he’s a free agent again. Should the club pursue him?
After a 30-season absence from the postseason, the Kansas City Royals came agonizingly close to winning the World Series in 2014. Some nine months later, determined to return to and win the Series, the Royals beat out other trade deadline suitors to land veteran infielder-outfielder Ben Zobrist for the stretch run. Zobrist, an instant fan and clubhouse favorite and vital component in the club’s march to a World Championship, so enjoyed the Kansas City experience that his daughter, born five days after the Series, was given “Royal” as her middle name.

But the end of the 2015 season meant free agency for Zobrist; although the Royals clearly wanted him back, the mutual admiration society that was the Kansas City-Zobrist relationship wasn’t quite enough to overcome the Chicago Cubs’ four-year, $56 million offer and a reunion with manager Joe Maddon, for whom he played at Tampa Bay. Zobrist left to help the Cubs to their first World Series appearance since 1945 and first championship since 1908.

Now a free agent once again, Zobrist finds himself on the cusp of his age-39 season. He will be in demand–even at his age, Zobrist can still play, can still handle the bat, and can still play almost anywhere on the diamond. But after a 2019 season interrupted by a leave of absence for personal reasons, apparently spurred by divorce proceedings, Zobrist’s future is undetermined even after a late-season return to the game. He isn’t certain he will play again and may retire. Until he decides, though, interested clubs won’t close the book on him.

Royals General Manager Dayton Moore keeps his free-agent interests close to the vest, so it isn’t surprising that Zobrist’s name isn’t drawing much attention around Kansas City–it isn’t likely Moore would confirm or deny interest in Zobrist this early in the free-agent process, especially when the club doesn’t know Alex Gordon‘s intentions and needs pitching more than anything.

But the notion of Zobrist returning to KC shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. His acquisition from the A’s was widely lauded and his contribution to the 2015 championship season matched the expectations that motivated the club to give up a top pitching prospect, Sean Manaea, to get him. At age 34, Zobrist slashed .284/.364/.453 with seven homers in 59 games, and he hit .333 in the ALDS and .320 in the ALCS. He dipped to .261 in the World Series, but played in all five games and scored the Royals’ final run in the championship-clinching game against the Mets.

A solid and versatile player even before joining the Royals–he has regularly played left and right fields, first and second base, and shortstop–and despite joining the Cubs in his age-35 season, Zobrist flourished in the Windy City. He hit it off immediately with his teammates and fans; in his first Cubs season, he slugged 18 home runs–the third-highest number of his career–drove in 76 runs, had 31 doubles, and slashed .272./.386/.446. Although he hit only .232 in 2017, he rebounded to .305 in 2018.

Zobrist hit an acceptable .260 in 2019, but it was a campaign not easily susceptible to meaningful evaluation. He took his leave of absence in May and returned in September; the lengthy absence reduced his season to 47 games and just 176 plate appearances. But Zobrist and Maddon believe he can still play and perform.

If Zobrist and his former manager are right–and his consistency and durability over 14 big league seasons suggest they just might be–the former Royal favorite could be a valuable addition to any club searching for a versatile, reliable and popular veteran. A return to the Cubs is certainly possible.

But the Royals may not be the best fit for Zobrist. He won’t come cheap, and owner-in-waiting John Sherman‘s financial priorities won’t be known until he officially takes the club’s reins. While Zobrist’s physical abilities aren’t in question, his age (39 in May) may limit playing time on a club increasingly committing itself to younger players. And the presence of Whit Merrifield, another premier player capable of playing several positions well and who, like Zobrist, probably does his best work at second base, would further limit Zobrist’s playing time.

Ben Zobrist helped bring the World Series trophy back to Kansas City in 2015. Although his stay was short, he was immensely popular with fans and teammates alike. Should he delay retirement for another year, his talent and versatility will pay dividends for some team. But that team probably isn’t the Kansas City Royals: he may command too high a salary, the club is relying more on younger players, and the presence of Whit Merrifield in a role otherwise suited for Zobrist makes the veteran free agent an unlikely choice for a return to Kansas City.

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Player’s Weekend is coming up in just two weeks but we already know all of the nicknames the players are going to wear. To be entirely honest with you I think they did a lot better this year than they have before. But I think there is definitely still some room for improvement. At least this year they only had one guy just stick with his real name. Even in cases where they came up with some good ones, there are usually some excellent alternatives to use in other years.

Humberto Arteaga – ARTY – That’s a pretty prototypical Ned-nickname. Credit for at least having one, but I think we can do better. Back during spring training, Ned called him “Whit Merrifield before he became Whit Merrifield” so for his nickname I propose, “WHIT IN PROGRESS”

Scott Barlow – SCOOTS McGOOTS – OK. That’s pretty fun to say but according to the internet, it means “on the way out the door” which is decidedly not where Scott Barlow wants to be. In the meantime, Dennis Eckersley gave him a nickname just a few days ago during the Boston series when he called him “DR. NASTY”. It wasn’t in time to make this year’s cut, but it’s worth considering. Alternately he could go with “OATS McGOATS” because…I don’t know. I just wanted to say that.

Cheslor Cuthbert – ISLAND BOY – Cheslor hails from Corn Island, Nicaragua so he chose the simple moniker for himself. But I can’t help remembering the profile Rustin Dodd wrote about the 26-year-old infielder, last year, which talked at length about his love for chickens. So I think he should go with either “CORNISH CHICKEN” or a chicken emoji. Yes, emojis are valid on the backs of jerseys.

Hunter Dozier – BULLDOZ – This one is easy. He’s already got most of a great nickname here. Just finish it off as “BULLDOZIER” and you’re good to go.

Danny Duffy – GORDO – I have to admit, I nearly died laughing when I realized Duffy and Gordon had swapped nicknames for this year’s event. I don’t have a better nickname for Duffy, either. Duffman is pretty iconic at this point. Maybe “DUFFSTER”, just to shake things up?

Cam Gallagher – GALLY – For some reason, I think it would be hilarious if he’d gone with GAL PAL. I don’t know why.

Alex Gordon – DUFFMAN – Again, hilarious nickname swap. But I really would love to see him don the mantle of “LO, DANGER OX” just once.

Billy Hamilton – BONE – For the life of me I can’t figure out what this nickname is supposed to reference. And I’m honestly a bit afraid to ask. Given the popularity of the Broadway Musical, I’d probably choose “ALEXANDER” for his nickname.

Tim Hill – TIM JIM – This one is also fun to say. It makes me smile every time I say it. I’m not going to lie, I sat here for a bit and tried to think up a pun to play on the fact that his last name is Hill and the pitcher’s mound is sometimes called a hill. But I couldn’t come up with anything that didn’t require way too many words to fit or be funny. So I’ll just give him “TOOLMAN” after the main character on the erstwhile sitcom, Home Improvement.

Jakob Junis – JUNE BUG – Honestly, this one is pretty solid. It’s the same he used last year and it’s unique and plays off of his name well. The only other name I could come up with was “LOONEY JUNEY”

Brad Keller – YELDARB – This one took me a bit to get but it’s his first name spelled backward. Which is exactly the kind of low-effort, silly nonsense that appeals to me. In honor of that, I’ll give him another low-effort nickname, “KILLER”.

Ian Kennedy – E – We talked about this on the podcast a bit. It’s unclear exactly what this is supposed to mean so I’m going to present an option that didn’t occur to any of us during the podcast – drugs. But if Ian Kennedy wanted to name himself after a narcotic “SPECIAL K” was sitting right there.

Jorge López – EL PICHU – I went to a couple of Spanish-speaking friends in an effort to try and get more of an insight on several of these nicknames and just walked away more confused than before. I was prepared to assume he likes Pokémon then I tweeted about his, Jorge Soler’s, and Meibrys Viloria’s nicknames all together. It turns out they’re all different kinds of salsa – Pichu Salsa is a sweet salsa made with Pichuberries. So they’re just being silly with food. Given his nasty curveball and propensity for getting pulled from games rather quickly I’d rather he went by “CAPTAIN HOOK”, though.

Nicky Lopez – SHORTS – I’m going to assume this is a play on the fact that he’s played a lot of shortstop in his pro career. But since he’s played a lot more second base in the bigs it might be time to update it to “DEUCES”.

Richard Lovelady – LOVE – While you could do worse than this for a nickname it seems like you should be able to do a lot better. Maybe “ALL’S FOUL” or “AND WAR”. Something like that. I’m just spitballing here.

Kevin McCarthy -MAC – No. We already had Mac – Catcher Mike MacFarlane – and we already even had Mac the Ninth – former closer Mike MacDougal. He can’t be Mac. But maybe he should be “MIKE”. Heaven knows I’m always calling Mike because of the Packers coach, and it turns out all the other Macs were also Mikes, too. Just saying. I’d give him all the props in the world if next year he went with “APPLE” but I’m not sure even I’d remember why I wanted him to do that.

Whit Merrifield – WHITLEY – Whit has taken on his nickname from broadcaster Rex Hudler. Very sporting of him. But at this point maybe he should just go with “YOUNG ZOBRIST” or “ZOBRIST JR.” or something like that.

Adalberto Mondesi – ACE – I’m not messing with a touching tribute to someone’s friend who fell too soon.

Mike Montgomery – MONTY – No, see, we already HAVE a pitcher named Montgomery who goes by Monty. He even still works as a TV analyst for the team! This is even worse than Mac up there. I think he should have gone with “SECOND CHANCE”.

Ryan O’Hearn – BROHEARN – This is a fun nickname for a guy who hits the baseball as hard as O’Hearn does (when he gets it in the air, anyway). But I promised I’d try to come up with alternates. All I’ve got for you is “O’HERNIA”. You’re welcome.

Salvador Perez – EL NIÑO – Obviously, this one is here to stay. He’s going to be 43-years-old, demanding to start at catcher and still calling himself “The Boy”.

Jorge Soler – EL CRUDO – According to my Spanish-speaking friends and Google Translate this can mean The Crude, The Raw, or Hangover. According to salsa friend, it is any kind of rough, chopped salsa. But “SOLER POWER” would work pretty well if he and his buddies weren’t obsessed with salsa.

Glenn Sparkman – SPARKY – This will just have to do since he can’t put a GIF on the back of his jersey.

Bubba Starling – BUBS – The least he could have done was make it “BUBS BUNNY”. I googled starlings to see if I could find anything interesting about the birds. Apparently, they are hazardous to air travel, are considered an invasive species, and are exempt from the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 which makes it unlawful to hunt, kill, or sell migratory birds. Do with that information what you will.

Josh Staumont – STAUMONT – The one Royal who had the option and made absolutely no effort to use a nickname. Given this insult to fans everywhere I assign him the insulting nickname of “WALKMAN”.

Meibrys Viloria – EL FRESCO – This means “Fresh” in Spanish and I originally thought it was a play on the fact that he is the fresh face in town. But, of course, he is the final member of the Salsa Trio. An el fresco salsa is similar to pico de gallo; it’s made fresh (imagine that!) and would have a mix of hot peppers. That being said I wish he could go with, “MAYBE IT’S MEIBRYS” but I don’t think it would fit, anyway. I’d also accept “CALL ME MEIBRYS”.

Kyle Zimmer – ZIM – Not much to say here. I don’t know how many fans are left who remember the beat writer for the Royals on the Kansas City Star staff back in 2014-2015 but I’d go ahead and call him “McCULLOUGH’S BEAT”.

That’s everybody who got to pick a name with the Royals this year. Nick Dini and Eric Skoglund are both in the big leagues now but weren’t in time to choose nicknames. I’d probably go with “DINIED” pronounced denied and “SKOGSWORTH” respectively. That being said, what nicknames do you wish these guys had picked? What nickname would you pick if you were in the big leagues for Player’s Weekend?

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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – A sea of green and white jerseys, hats and shirts gathered at the Chris Cline Indoor Athletics Complex for the groundbreaking ceremony of Marshall University’s new baseball stadium, for some at the event they thought this day may never come.

“This is probably one of the happiest days of my life really. Like I said I am 93 years old, and I have had a lot of days, but not too many like this,” said Jack Cook, former MU baseball head coach.

The baseball team is the only program at the school without their own facility, and for decades they have been playing their home games on the road at places like Charleston and Beckley.

“Marshall baseball has been on the back-burner for years, years… too long, way too long. Now we are making our way from the back-burner to the front-burner,” said Rick Reed, MU alum and former major league baseball pitcher.

Reed was joined by another MU alum and former major league baseball pitcher at the ceremony, Jeff Montgomery.

The former relief pitcher for the Kansas City Royals said, “I can’t think of anything I would rather do than break ground on a new baseball stadium here at Marshall.”

Mike Hamrick, MU director of athletics said one of the reasons it took so long for the baseball team to get its own facility was because it was difficult to find a site close to the school.

“We finally found the property with the help of the city [Huntington] and the Huntington Municipal Development Authority. We were finally able to purchase the property where we wanted it – close to our campus,” said Hamrick.

At the ceremony, Reed estimated the Marshall University’s baseball team has played more than 3000 home games without a field to call their own, but their endless road trip is about to end when their new stadium opens 17 months from now at the corner 24th Street and 5th Avenue in Huntington.

“When I first heard we were getting a stadium, I was shocked. I am still pinching myself. I am just extremely excited that Huntington, the City of Huntington, is going to be able to come out and watch us,” said Jeff Waggoner, MU head baseball coach.

The new, $22 million state-of-the-art facility will seat 3,500 people, and Waggoner believes the facility will help the baseball program recruit players and develop them.

Reed said he believes the new baseball stadium will also create more opportunities and a new stream of revenue for the city.

“I just heard there is the possibility of a minor league team coming in here. We could host a regional college tournament right here, more revenue for the city. We could possibly get the high school state tournaments to come here. Just endless possibilities for this. I’m so excited,” said Reed.

Hamrick said the new stadium is being funded through private donations, and they, “are currently in the process of fundraising through the Big Green Scholarship Foundation” and are off to a “great start.”

At the event, it was also announced that Reed and his family made a $1 million donation for the project.

Construction is expected to start in March of 2020, weather permitting, and everyone hopes to see Marshall Baseball in Huntington for the start of the 2021 season.

Also in attendance for the groundbreaking ceremony was Marshall President Dr. Jerry Gilbert, Huntington Mayor Steve Williams, and Jim Bailes, Chairman of the MU Board of Governors.

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After a few years of shorter stints in the majors, the Kansas City Royals shortstop has to prove he can finally live up to his superstar potential.

For the Kansas City Royals, Adalberto Mondesi is becoming a household name. He’s muddled around in the Royals system since 2012 and has now found his way to being the full-time shortstop at Kauffman Stadium. The problem for Mondesi is that in the season where he was on track to prove his worth, he was held back by injuries.

Mondesi was included in a recent article as a dark horse candidate to bat .300 in 2020, but let’s have a quick refresh on his offensive statistics for 2019. Mondesi finished the season with 102 games, 20 doubles, 10 triples, 9 home runs, 43 stolen bases, 62 RBIs and slashed .263/.291/.424. Mondesi also only had 19 walks but 132 strikeouts.

Other than the triples and stolen bases, the other numbers probably don’t jump out to anyone as “superstar” numbers. This leads to some questions of whether Mondesi will ever live up to the superstar that he could potentially be.

Obviously, he must continue to work on his discipline at the plate. Mondesi takes a lot of strikeouts and it really hurts his numbers and potential. If he were smashing 30 plus home runs every year, it might be something that one could look past, but unfortunately for Mondi, the home runs haven’t started flying.

️ Adalberto Mondesi is tied for the @MLB lead in triples and has the second most steals in the Majors.#AlwaysRoyal pic.twitter.com/y9qDuuMmSI

— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) September 17, 2019

There is something to be said though for his numbers along with his injuries in 2019. Mondesi was able to keep a decent batting average, and even saw his on-base percentage start to rise before he fell into his first injury of the season. After the domino effect of injuries that kept him out a majority of the season after mid-June, Mondesi never really found his footing again.

It’s unfortunate, as the Royals didn’t get to see what a full season of Mondesi can really do. He was on track to likely bat in the .280-.290 range, and he trailed for the lead in stolen bases by only a couple with far fewer games many others in the race. Mondesi’s offense is sadly still in a state of unknowns until he can put together an entire season without injuries getting in the way.

For defense, Mondesi looks to be a little more on track. Because his defense is progressing better than his offense, a comparison seemed like a good idea. To determine if Mondesi can live up to his “superstar” potential, it’s important to compare him to, well, a superstar. Enter: Francisco Lindor.

This article is not about Lindor, but his stats can be useful in determining where Mondesi places on the scale of good shortstops. Let’s list out their 2019 standard fielding stats to see how the two shortstops line up. These stats are only those from the shortstop position.

Mondesi: Games: 100; Chances: 440; Put Outs: 147; Assists: 286; Errors: 7; Double Plays : 66; Fielding Percentage: .984; Range Factor per 9 innings: 4.57.

Lindor: Games: 137; Chances: 481; Put Outs: 159; Assists: 312; Errors: 10; Double Plays: 68; Fielding Percentage: .979; Range Factor per 9 innings: 3.54

See any similarities? Now, give Mondesi 37 more games at shortstop. There is little doubt that with the same production, Mondesi would have similar stats defensively to Lindor, a superstar shortstop.

‘Grounds out sharply to Adalberto Mondesi’ is becoming a tale as old as time.#AlwaysRoyal pic.twitter.com/E3WxxCWSnx

— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) June 5, 2019

Little needs to be said in the argument for Mondi’s defense. The stats speak for themselves and show that he is definitely living up to his potential in that aspect.

The superstar potential case for Mondesi is strong, but he is going to have to continue to work and progress if he wants to prove that he is living up to his full value. At 23, his defensive abilities are following right along with one of the best shortstops in baseball, but his offense obviously trails.

If he can start 2020 like he did 2019, batting close to .300 and using his outstanding base running, Mondesi might just be able to push himself over the edge and start to see the recognition and awards start to fall into place.

The Royals need Mondesi healthy and for him to finally have a full breakout season. With hopes of contention in the near future following this poor rebuild the team has found themselves in, a top tier shortstop who can tear it up at the plate will help to push the Royals even closer to that goal.

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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!

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Position: Right-handed starting pitcher

Santillan is currently ranked as the Cincinnati Reds #4 prospect by MLBPipeline.com. He was the Reds second round selection in the 2015 draft out of Seguin High School in Arlington, Texas.

2019 Season: Santillan (pronounced SAN-tee-on), a big, strong, power pitcher with one of the best fastballs in the Cincinnati farm system, spent spring training with the Reds, making two starts and one relief appearance at big league camp. He joined the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts for the start of the season and pitched well for the first two months before injuries brought his 2019 development to a premature close. Over Santillan’s first two months at Chattanooga, he posted a 3.24 ERA and struck out 62 batters in 58 innings. But over the next two months of the season, he went on the injured list three times and did not pitch at all after July 30. His 6.98 ERA in June and July as he battled injuries drove his final ERA for the year up to 4.84 in 21 starts. It was a disappointing finish for Santillan, who had been selected as the Reds Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2018.

With the Dragons: Santillan first arrived in Dayton late in the 2016 season as a 19-year-old and made seven starts. He returned to the Dragons in 2017 and became one of the Midwest League’s best starting pitchers, earning selection to the MWL All-Star Game. He was a key contributor to the Dragons run to the second round of the playoffs. He made 24 starts with the Dragons, posting a 3.38 ERA that ranked fifth best in the league. He also finished fourth in the MWL in strikeouts and third in lowest opponents’ batting average. Santillan and left-hander Scott Moss gave the Dragons starting rotation one of their best one-two punches in team history.

Outlook: Santillan would hope for a healthy 2020 season. He is not far from entering the picture as a possible starting pitcher at the big league level with the Reds.

Fun Facts: Santillan grew up less than 10 miles from the Texas Rangers ballpark (known as Globe Life Park since 2014; it will be replaced in 2020 by a new facility)…Santillan was primarily a shortstop in high school but impressed the Reds with his potential as a pitcher. He reached 96-98 mph with his fastball while with the Dragons and has hit 100 mph…Santillan was selected as the Pitcher with the Best Fastball in the Reds system prior to the 2017 season…Santillan attended the same high school as Freddie Patek, who played in three MLB all-star games with the Kansas City Royals in the 1970′s despite being the shortest major league player of his era at 5’5″.

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Kelvin Gutierrez got his first taste of the big leagues for the Kansas City Royals in 2019. The results were mixed, at best.
Kelvin Gutierrez came to the Royals organization in 2018 in a swap of Kelvins that sent Kelvin Herrera to the Washington Nationals. The ultimate results of the trade for the Kansas City Royals are still unknown and will be for some time, but the most major league ready player the Nationals gave up was Gutierrez.

Gutierrez came to the Royals organization with a reputation as an elite defender at third base and an average bat. During his short time in Kansas City this season he played like an average defender with an average bat, at best.

I was not surprised by the offensive struggles of Gutierrez in the big leagues. He only played 20 games. His strikeout rate jumped up and his walk rate plummeted. His Slugging Percentage was barely over .350. But he did hit for a decent batting average of .260. And 20 games are not enough of a sample size to make judgments or predictions on a prospect.

The defensive struggles we saw Kelvin endure at third base were a bit surprising, at least to me. He has a reputation as a very good defender with an elite arm. 3 errors in 18 games at third base was genuinely shocking to see. He looked uncomfortable, at times, on defense. Hopefully, that was just the nervous energy of a young man getting his first taste of Major League Baseball.

In 2019 Gutierrez put together a nice season in Omaha. He kept his OPS right around .800 all year. His batting average was .287. And his On Base Percentage was .367. And both of those numbers are right about where his career numbers are over 7 seasons in the minor leagues.

There are plenty of bright spots for Kelvin Gutierrez as a hitter. He makes contact. He does not strike out a lot. He walks a decent amount, if not a great amount. His respectable batting average keeps his On Base Percentage at a reasonable level. His issue has not been making contact. His issue has always been, and still remains to be, the kind of contact he is making.

Kelvin Gutierrez has a Slugging Percentage under .400 for his minor league career. That is not acceptable for a third baseman. His groundball percentage in Omaha last season was 54 percent. Yikes. In Kansas City, over his small sample size, his groundball percentage was 68. 68 percent! That many groundballs would make Eric Hosmer wince.

If Gutierrez wants to keep from becoming Cheslor Cuthbert he is going to need to get some lift on his swing. He is going to need to make better contact. Having an athletic third baseman that can move as well as Kelvin can move is nice to have. Having a third baseman that can only hit grounders is not an everyday player.

There are some reasons to be hopeful here. His two best home run seasons were his last two seasons. The best season, in his career, as a hitter was 2019 in Omaha. He is only 24 years old. It is not unthinkable that he makes an adjustment or two and begins driving the ball somewhere other than into the ground. Matt Carpenter did not become an everyday major leaguer until he was 26 and then did not hit more than 11 home runs until he was 29.

Kelvin has shown he can more than handle AAA baseball. He will take a walk, if not quite at an elite level. He has shown he can keep his strikeouts manageable. But he will need to show us some pop in 2020. He has to prove he can consistently get some lift on a baseball before the Kansas City Royals can begin considering him a useful enough player to move guys around in the big leagues in order to open up a spot for him. Otherwise, a backup infielder will be the most we get out of him.

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Ryan O’Hearn was really good after being called up in 2018. So good. He batted .262/.353/.597, with a 153 wRC+, and hit 12 dingers in 44 games. His Barrel Rate of 12.5% was roughly double the league average, and his average exit velocity of 91.4 mph was four ticks above the typical player’s. He also walked at an 11.8% clip, which is practically unheard of in Kansas City. It was only a couple months of play, but that’s the kind of stuff that’s easy to get excited about. Coming into 2019, there was a lot hope for O’Hearn. It looked like he could be a solid, middle-of-the-order bat for the Royals.

And then he reminded us just how difficult and frustrating and heartbreaking baseball can be.

Ryan O’Hearn had a really rough season. He batted .195/.281/.369, with a 69 wRC+, and hit 14 home runs – just two more than he did in his brief stint in the majors the prior season. Against lefties he particularly struggled, batting .170/.262/.245. Not many teams would have endured that sort of play for the bulk of a season, but the 2019 Royals were not most teams. Lacking a better alternative and perhaps seeing potential in O’Hearn, they played him in 105 games, giving him plenty of opportunity to prove that his 2018 performance was not a fluke. Unfortunately, he was unable to do so.

Despite his lackluster performance this past season, O’Hearn has a decent chance of being the Royals’ first baseman on opening day 2020. And that’s probably OK. Back in September I wrote a piece urging Royals fans not to give up on O’Hearn just yet. You should go back and read it for the full effect, but in a nutshell, I highlighted two important things that O’Hearn does really well; he hits the ball hard and he takes a lot of walks.

His average exit velocity of 90.5 was three mph above league average, putting him in the top 100 in all of baseball. His walk rate of 10.5% was two percent above league average and second only to Jorge Soler’s among Royals regulars. Clearly those two things alone aren’t enough, otherwise O’Hearn would have had a better 2019. But they’re not nothing. There’s still reason to dream on him being a productive big-league hitter, though his opportunities to prove it are surely dwindling in number.

If he’s going to become a productive hitter, he’ll need to find a way to start driving the ball. His ground ball rate of 46.3% isn’t pretty. But when combined with his infield hit rate of 3.7%, it becomes thoroughly grotesque. When Ryan O’Hearn made contact in 2019, he hit a ground ball nearly half of the time, yet only got four infield hits all year. Not all grounders stay in the infield, of course, particularly when they’re hit as hard as O’Hearn hits them. But to have hit that many ground balls and to only have come up with four infield hits? Woof. It’s no wonder he struggled.

But if you’re in search of a ray of hope for O’Hearn, look no further than his last month or so of play. In an interview by Jordan Foote over at Kings of Kauffman, O’Hearn pointed to the Cleveland series at the end of August as a turning point. Indeed, from that series until the end of the season, he hit .275/.359/.600, good for a 144 wRC+. He hit 7 of his 14 home runs during that time, and his line drive rate was a healthy 27.3% — 10 points above his rate for the season. Those line drives came almost completely at the expense of his ground ball rate, which was a more palatable 38.2%. There’s danger in drawing conclusions from a month of baseball, of course, but those are all really positive signs.

The Royals could always decide that they’ve seen enough of O’Hearn and go a different direction this offseason. Ryan McBroom exists. Hunter Dozier could move across the diamond. Lucas Duda is out there just wasting away, and you know it has to be driving Dayton Moore crazy. But assuming they stick with O’Hearn, the first month or two of 2020 will be absolutely pivotal for him. If he can pick up where he left off, he could be the first baseman of the future in Kansas City. If not, he might find himself out of chances. Baseball is cruel and really, really hard, and the opportunities are so very limited in number. I like Ryan O’Hearn a lot and hope he’s able to put it together. But there’s no doubt, his 2019 season was a rough one.

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With the World Series over, the off-season is now officially upon us. The Royals have a lot they want to accomplish, such as hiring a new manager, transitioning to new owner John Sherman once he is officially approved by MLB, and improving a team that has lost 100+ games in each of the last two seasons.

Here is what you need to know about this off-season for the Royals.

Will John Sherman be approved as the new owner?
It seems like a forgone conclusion that Sherman will be approved when owners have their annual meeting November 19-21 in Arlington, Texas. He has already been vetted by MLB as a minority owner with the Cleveland Indians and MLB seems likely to approve the candidate handpicked by David Glass. We haven’t heard much of anything from Sherman since the sale of the team was announced, although much of the background information on his has been positive.

Will Dayton Moore remain the general manager?
No official announcement has been made, but there is no reason to think Dayton Moore won’t continue to be general manager of the Royals. Sherman is reportedly a fan of Moore’s and there has been at least one report he plans to give Moore a long-term contract.

When will the Royals hire a manager?
Despite the ownership transition, the Royals are moving forward with finding someone to replace retired skipper Ned Yost, with Sherman giving his stamp of approval. They have reportedly interviewed internal candidates such as quality control coach Pedro Grifol, bullpen coach Vance Wilson, and special advisor Mike Matheny, as well as holding remote interviews with external candidates. According to MLB.com reporter Jeffrey Flanagan, bench coach Dale Sveum is not a candidate although he expects to have a role in the organization. Matheny remains the overwhelming favorite, but no announcement has been made, and Moore says the hiring process could be complete by “today, tomorrow or sometime prior to the winter meetings.”

What is the payroll situation?
The payroll went down to $100 milion on Opening Day this year, and it could go down even further as the Royals continue their rebuild. The club has just $60 million committed to players under contract for next year and only a few players eligible for arbitration, although that will likely include Jorge Soler once he opts out of his contract. We don’t know what Sherman will do with payroll, but it is probably safe to say he won’t make a big splash in free agency immediately, and will instead let Dayton Moore continue to build a team with young players.

Wait, Jorge Soler can opt out of his contract? Is he a free agent?
Soler has a unique long-term contract that he signed as an amateur with the Cubs that pays him a base salary of $4.67 million next year, but allows him to opt out of the deal and into the arbitration system. He won’t be a free agent, but he will stand to make more money through arbitration, probably between $8-10 million based on his season. He would still be under club control through the 2021 season, going through arbitration again before that season unless the Royals sign him to a long-term deal.

What Royals are free agents?
The only significant free agent is likely to be Alex Gordon, who will almost certainly have his $23 million mutual option declined by the Royals. Gordo will decide this off-season whether he will continue to play baseball or retire. The Royals have not given an indication that they would bring him back if Gordon decides to continue playing, but Alex has said the Royals are the only team he wants to play for.

Will the Royals look to sign any free agents?
As they did last off-season, the Royals will likely look for bargain free agents that can complement the roster. The team could use some starting pitching depth, although they may not want anyone to block the crop of young starters coming through the minors that could be ready for the big leagues at some point next season. The outfield isn’t entirely set, with question marks around Bubba Starling and Brett Phillips, Alex Gordon possibly retiring, and uncertainty whether Whit Merrifield will play second base or the outfield, if he even stays in Kansas City. And the club could always use more bullpen depth. Here is a list of all MLB free agents.

What is the 40-man roster situation?
The Royals currently have a full 40-man roster and will need to activate Salvador Perez and Kelvin Gutierrez from the 60-day injured list this week. They may also want to add some prospects to protect them from the Rule 5 draft such as outfielders Blake Perkins, Nick Heath and Seuly Matias, and pitchers Foster Griffin, Grant Gavin, Carlos Hernandez, Gerson Garabito, and Yunior Marte. Players that could potentially be taken off the 40-man roster include catcher Nick Dini, infielder Cheslor Cuthbert, outfielder Jorge Bonifacio, and pitchers Jacob Barnes, Scott Blewett, Conner Greene, Randy Rosario, and Jesse Hahn.

What are some dates to know?
Here is a look at the offseason calendar:

October 31 – Eligible players become free agents, but can only negotiate with their current club for a five-day quiet period

November 5 – Free agents can negotiate with all clubs; teams must decide on club options; teams must decide whether to make Qualifying Offers

November 11-14 – General Manager’s Meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona

November 14 – Deadline for players to accept a Qualifying Offer

November 19-21 – Owners Meetings in Arlington, Texas

December 2 – Non-tender deadline

December 9-12 – Winter Meetings in San Diego

January 10 – Teams and players must exchange arbitration figures

February 3-21 – Arbitration hearings

February 11 – Royals pPitchers and catchers report

February 16 – Royals full squad reports

February 22 – Royals spring training opener vs. Los Angeles Angels

March 26 – Royals regular season opener at Chicago White Sox

April 2 – Royals home opener vs. Seattle Mariners