The Royals are next in our 2012 Contract Issues series. Here's what the team faces after the 2011 season:
Eligible For Free Agency (6)
- Catchers Jason Kendall and Matt Treanor will be eligible for free agency, so look for the Royals to acquire a veteran backstop this offseason.
- With Kyle Davies, Bruce Chen, and Jeff Francis signed through 2011, three-fifths of the club's current rotation will be up in the air. The Royals might lose a couple of veteran lefties, but in Mike Montgomery, John Lamb, Danny Duffy, and Chris Dwyer, they've got four highly-rated southpaws not far from the Majors. Aaron Crow has pitched well out of the team's big league bullpen, but he could also be in the rotation mix next year. I can picture the Royals adding a veteran free agent or two for depth.
- Infielder Wilson Betemit may be approaching free agency at the ideal time, as he's assembled a .300/.374/.497 line in 422 plate appearances in his Royals career to date. He should be able to continue as a third base regular with another club.
Contract Options (2)
- Joakim Soria: $6MM club option with a $750K buyout. Arbitration eligible if declined. Soria hasn't been himself this year, though much of the damage came in one outing against the White Sox. At any rate, he's not going anywhere.
- Jeff Francoeur: $3MM mutual option. Did you know Francoeur is currently tied with Howie Kendrick for the American League lead in total bases? He could end up knocking 30 home runs for the first time in his career. Wil Myers is learning to play right field in Double-A currently, so the Royals may prefer a stopgap solution at most for 2012.
Arbitration Eligible (8)
- First time: Mike Aviles, Mitch Maier, Chris Getz
- Second time: Luke Hochevar, Brayan Pena
- Third time: Robinson Tejeda, Alex Gordon
- Fourth time: Melky Cabrera
There may be a few non-tenders in this group, but Aviles, Maier, Hochevar, Tejeda, Gordon, and Cabrera are likely to be retained. I'll estimate something like $15MM for the six.
2012 Payroll Obligation
The Royals' 2012 payroll obligation, according to Cot's, is about $17MM assuming Soria's option is picked up. $15MM for the key arbitration eligibles puts them around $32MM, $6MM shy of this year's payroll and about $40MM short of the '09 and '10 payrolls. The Royals will probably increase their free agent activity during the 2011-12 offseason, as things may already be starting to come together.