Justin Maxwell's walkoff grand slam yesterday helped the Royals earn their 82nd win of the season, thus ensuring that the club will enjoy a winning record for just the second time in the last 19 seasons (and first time since 2003). The Royals sit 3.5 games behind the Indians for the last AL wild card slot, so while it would take a big finish to reach the postseason, K.C. will go into the offseason on a high note for the first time in years. Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star looks ahead to potential winter moves for the Royals as part of a reader Q&A piece…
- "It's not a slam dunk" that Ned Yost returns as the Royals manager in 2014, as Dutton believes that the lack of rumors about contract talks could indicate that the club is considering a change in the dugout. Dutton recently reported that owner David Glass was leaving Yost's fate up to GM Dayton Moore, and Moore said he is waiting until after the season to discuss contracts with Yost and the coaching staff.
- Moore and his staff should be credited, Dutton opines, for getting major contributions from Maxwell and Emilio Bonifacio in what seemed like minor trades at the time. Maxwell, acquired from the Astros on deadline day, has a .972 OPS in 89 PA as a Royal, while Bonifacio is hitting .287/.359/.353 over 155 PA and is 15-for-17 in steal attempts since being claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays in mid-August.
- Bonifacio's emergence means that the Royals no longer have to make second base a major priority this offseason. Bonifacio could start and the team is happy with Pedro Ciriaco as the utility infielder, though Bonifacio would return to his original utility role if the club does pick someone else up. With Bonifacio and Ciriaco in the fold, Dutton doesn't see much room for Chris Getz or Johnny Giavotella on the roster.
- The Royals will probably check in on Shin-Soo Choo this winter but Dutton suspects the free agent outfielder will be too expensive for the team. Choo is the fifth-ranked player on Tim Dierkes' Free Agent Power Rankings and will draw a lot of interest from several teams, so Dutton is probably right in assuming that K.C. will be priced out.
- An outfielder could be an offseason target for the team, as Dutton feels this would be the easiest spot to add a much-needed bat to the lineup. Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain are locks to return, with Maxwell, David Lough and Jarrod Dyson all currently in the mix for the third OF spot or a bench role.
- In terms of big-name free agent outfielders, Dutton sees Carlos Beltran as a likelier bet to sign with the Royals than Curtis Granderson, but while Beltran would be more open of the two to sign with K.C. for market value, Dutton still deems a Beltran return as "not likely." As MLBTR's Charlie Wilmoth noted yesterday in his Beltran vs. Nelson Cruz Free Agent Faceoff piece, Beltran is a defensive question mark at this point in his career, so he might not be a fit with the Royals given how Billy Butler is entrenched at DH.