Following their World Series victory in 2015, the Royals headed into 2016 with a similar core in place, re-signing Alex Gordon and Chris Young and inking Ian Kennedy and Joakim Soria as their only main additions. After an 81-81 season, GM Dayton Moore acknowledges that the team might have to try something different to prepare for 2017, as Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star writes.
“Last year, we pretty much stood pat,” says Moore. “We didn’t make a lot of changes to our team. And that didn’t work too well for us.”
Making big changes, though, will be tricky, for reasons Dodd points out. A number of key Royals players, including Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Wade Davis, Danny Duffy and Jarrod Dyson, will be eligible for free agency after next season, and Moore wants to give the Royals another shot to win a championship with his existing core. And Dodd had previously reported that the Royals expect their payroll to drop in 2017, even though their current obligations for next season (including contracts likely to be tendered to arbitration-eligible players) already approach their 2016 payroll total.
Something has to give, or so it would seem. The team could trade a player to clear salary, such as Cain, Davis or Kennedy. But to do so would solve one problem while creating another, since all of those players are helpful. The team also must look past 2017, possibly offering extensions to some players who will be eligible for free agency.
“We won’t be able to sign them all,” Moore says.
What’s clear is that part of the Royals’ plan for getting back to the postseason will be to depend on key players returning to their previous levels of performance. That list could perhaps include Gordon, who hit just .220/.312/.380 in the first year of his new contract; Moustakas, who missed most of the year with a torn ACL; and Hosmer.
“We have a lot of All-Star caliber players that we think can get back to their accustomed level,” says Moore. “We’ll count on that. But we also recognize the need to maybe mix it up a little bit.”