Offseason Outlook: Kansas City Royals

Next up in our offseason outlook series, the Royals.  Here’s how they set up for 2009:

C – John Buck – $2.2MM+
C – Brayan Pena – $400K
1B – Kila Ka’aihue – $400K
2B – Alberto Callaspo – $400K
SS – Mike Aviles – $400K
3B – Alex Gordon – $406K
IF – Ross Gload – $1.9MM
IF – Esteban German – $1MM+
LF – Mark Teahen – $2.3375MM+
CF – David DeJesus – $3.6MM
RF – Jose Guillen – $12MM
OF – Joey Gathright – $427K+
DH – Billy Butler – $400K

SP – Gil Meche – $11MM
SP – Zack Greinke – $1.4MM+
SP – Brian Bannister – $421K+
SP – Luke Hochevar – $1.325MM
SP – Kyle Davies – $427K+

RP – Ron Mahay – $4MM
RP – Jimmy Gobble – $1.3125MM+
RP – Joel Peralta – $450K+
RP – Robinson Tejeda – $400K
RP – Joakim Soria – $1MM
RP – Leo Nunez – $405K
RP – Ramon Ramirez – $400K

Other commitments: Yasuhiko Yabuta – $3MM, Luke Hudson – $475K+, Miguel Olivo – $2.7MM club option with $100K buyout; can be voided by Olivo

Non-tender candidates: John Bale, Mark Teahen, Brandon Duckworth, Jason Smith, Ryan Shealy, Tony Pena Jr.

This setup has the Royals committed for $52MM plus arbitration raises to Buck, German, Teahen, Gathright, Greinke, Bannister, Davies, Gobble, and Peralta.  Some of these players may be non-tendered.  The Royals should come in under $60MM, regardless.  They began ’08 with a $58MM payroll and peaked at $67MM to start ’07.

Rany Jazayerli has already provided an intelligent take on the ’09 lineup.  Shifting Aviles to second base and signing Rafael Furcal or Orlando Cabrera seems a distinct possibility.  Plus, the free agent market is loaded with interesting left fielders.  A few things would have to click, but the Royals could have a solid offense next year.  I also agree with Jazayerli that Dayton Moore may target a young catcher this winter.  I’m sure the Rangers would love to get Greinke, but I don’t see him going anywhere.

Two situations to monitor in ’09: Ka’aihue’s playing time and Teahen’s contract.  Ka’aihue, 24, posted a .314/.456/.628 line between Double and Triple A, and deserves a 300 plate appearance audition at first.  Teahen has a .692 OPS this year – does his versatility make him worth $3MM in ’09?

The Royals have a fantastic front two in the rotation, and question marks beyond that.  Given Moore’s success digging up relievers on the cheap, I’d like to see Soria moved to the rotation.  Or, the Royals could sign Brian Fuentes to fill the void. 

The Royals have been awful this year, but they could be a sleeper in ’09 with the right additions and a couple of breakout seasons.  Stranger things have happened.

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