The Royals’ payroll will “regress” in 2017, according to GM Dayton Moore, as Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star reports. While Kansas City still intends to push to put a winner on the field after a disappointing, .500 campaign, it will face significant monetary restraints in finding ways to improve.
Dodd provides an extensive breakdown of the organization’s financial situation. The club carried approximately $135MM on its payroll on Opening Day of 2016, and is currently lined up to land near that team-record number as things stand (with arbitration raises factored in).
That kind of outlay, Moore suggested, is not likely. “This  payroll was put together with going deep in the postseason [in mind],” said Moore. “That didn’t happen. Again, I’m accountable for that. It’s not going to look very good on the spreadsheet when the bill comes due.”
Looking ahead, it seems, there’s little chance that Kansas City will further bump that spending. If anything, it seems, the inclination may be to find ways to save. “[W]e’ll have to re-evaluate that, probably reorganize, take some steps back,” Moore explained. “We’re going to have to look internally and [in] trades,” he went on to add. “We won’t be adding money. That’s for darn sure.”
That will make for a challenge as K.C. seeks to return to contention. Certainly, better health and better play from key veterans could make a significant difference. But Moore cited an interest in bolstering the back of the pen and boosting the offense, which could require identifying the right internal talent and pursuing what Moore referred to as “creative” trade scenarios. He largely rejected the idea of adding salary in free agency after making some rather substantial outlays last winter.
Certainly, the totality of the comments seem to suggest that some change could be afoot. Key players such as Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Danny Duffy, Wade Davis, and Alcides Escobar are entering their final seasons of team control. While praising the organizational core, Moore said that the front office “also recognize[s] the need to maybe mix it up a little bit.”
Improving on offense will be a particular challenge given that the Royals may soon bid adieu to Kendrys Morales, their most productive hitter in 2016. He’s unlikely to pick up his side of a $10MM mutual option, and while the club could theoretically slap a qualifying offer on him, that would represent a big risk given the aforementioned financial constraints.
Moore suggested that it’s still an open question how things will play out with Morales, but it seems difficult to imagine a way to accommodate his return. “We’ll just keep all of our options open,” Moore said. “But he’s a player that we’re very proud of. He’s a big part of our success. We would love to have him back. I just don’t know if it will work at this point in time.”