Royals GM Dayton Moore held a brief chat with Jon Heyman and Josh Lewin on the Big Time Baseball Podcast (audio link). We’ll touch on some of the highlights here.
With long-tenured manager Ned Yost having retired at the end of the Royals’ season, finding his successor is among the most important tasks on Moore’s plate. As of now, though, the Royals are still “vetting candidates” for the job and “have yet to go through a formal interview” with anyone, according to Moore. It seems in an ideal world, the club will promote Yost’s replacement from within. Moore talked up Royals assistants Mike Matheny, Dale Sveum, Pedro Grifol and Vance Wilson, declaring that they’re “strong candidates.”
Matheny, who possesses by far the most managerial experience of any of the Royals’ possibilities, was at the helm of a Cardinals club that went 591-474 with four playoff berths and an NL pennant from 2012-18. Moore, cognizant of the success St. Louis had in the standings during that run, contends Matheny’s “an amazing leader” who “won every single year” with the franchise. Although Matheny received plenty of criticism throughout time with the Redbirds, Moore’s impressed that he was able to successfully transition from a long career as a big league catcher to that of a manager – all while taking over for Hall of Famer Tony La Russa.
Since last November, a few months after his in-season firing with the Cardinals, Matheny has been serving as a special advisor in Kansas City. He’s “done excellent work” in that capacity, per Moore, who revealed Matheny “has options” and has been “sought out” by other clubs (though it’ s unclear if that implies teams are interested in Matheny as a manager).
Whether the Royals tap Matheny or someone else for the role, that individual will be facing the grueling task of trying to get immediate results in the standings for KC. The Royals are coming off their second straight 100-loss season, though Moore & Co. nonetheless “feel good about our core group of young position players.” He specifically named third baseman Hunter Dozier, right fielder Jorge Soler, shortstop Adalberto Mondesi (“one of the best talents in the game; just needs to get more consistent) and second baseman Nicky Lopez as potential building blocks who have age on their side. With the exception of Soler, whose contract is more complex than most, all of those players come with a few seasons of affordable control. As of now, it’s unknown whether the Royals will try to extend Soler, who’s coming off an age-27 season in which he mashed 48 home runs.
As effective as Soler was in 2019, second baseman/outfielder Whit Merrifield still may be the centerpiece of the Royals’ cast of position players. Merrifield will turn 31 during the offseason, but having signed a team-friendly extension last winter, the rebuilding Royals aren’t under pressure to deal him. Moore has always resisted doing so despite vast interest from other clubs. Now, “nobody is untouchable,” and the Royals need to be “open-minded” until they know which opportunities could present themselves. However, Moore continues to regard Merrifield as a “special talent” and a “special person,” which suggests the club’s more than content to move ahead with the well-rounded All-Star.
While the Royals do have some gems among their position players, they don’t look as well off on the pitching side. The Royals’ hurlers posted the majors’ fourth-worst ERA (5.20) this year, and Brad Keller – a 2017 Rule 5 acquisition – was their lone starter to put up average or better production across a full season. With those struggles in mind, Moore acknowledged that the Royals “gotta do a better job of developing pitching, acquiring pitching.”
Looking ahead to 2020, the Royals will likely be in for another lean year. “We’ve got a ways to go,” said Moore, who didn’t offer a timeline on a possible return to contention. As you’d expect, though, the longtime exec indicated he and the franchise are bent on orchestrating a turnaround.
Soler has two years of arbitration control left.
Your team must really suck if Nicky Lopez is a building block. And still haven’t dealt merrifield. Pure stupidity as if he forgot how he built the royals contending teams off the back of the Greinke trade
Not dealing Merrifield is a complete head scratcher. His value is high and his age pretty much eliminates his contribution to a rebuilding team. Ask the Pirates what happens when you hold onto a player that you can use to speed up a rebuild too long.
Pirates?…holding on too long?…a player they could use to trade in a rebuild?
Are you seriously suggesting you believe there’s a reality where Whit might get busted for Statutory Sexual Assault of a Minor??
…or ANY crime, for that matter?
Come on, man
I think he was referring to Andrew McCutchen
Ah, that makes way more sense… my bad.
Re: Merrifield and trading him for “hauls…”
Someone has to offer the haul for a deal to be accepted. Deals headlined by a single top 100 guy (and a back half of the top 100 at that) don’t qualify as “hauls.”
It’s easy to say “trade the guy for young players!” – but finding a team willing to pay a fair price for him is another thing all together.
Lotto ticket returns just don’t work for a guy controlled for his period of time and at his bargain pricing.
If you remember, greinke WANTED to be traded. whit loves KC. there’s a huge difference.
I really hope moore does not go with Matheny! I’d much rather have Grifol.
And I LIKE Nicky Lopez. if he gets playing time, he’s going to be good.
Let me explain how important Whit Merrifield is to the Royals: Back when Mondesi got hurt initially (In July), after mondesi came out, Whit switched over to second while Nicky Lopez switched over to shortstop. We didn’t have anyone else on the bench that’s as versatile as Whit.
Nor are there any utility players in our system that are close to the MLB (that play as many positions anyway). They might be trying to make Brady McConnell a utility man (He’s playing the outfield in instructional league, after being drafted this year as a shortstop) But he’s probably at least two years away from even AAA considering he was in rookie level idaho falls this year.
They could have just trade Merrifield for a haul and then signed a Hechaveria-esque player to fill the role you described…. would’ve been the smart way to go if that was a problem. Now they’re looking like they’re just going to waste his talents on bad teams and when they’re ready to compete he’ll either be gone or regressed.
guess you missed moore signing chris owings last winter? **insert rolling eyes emoticon** owings was supposedly a utility like guy…..and a very poor signing…..a huge mistake.
the only utility man I know of (besides 39 year old zobrist) is the non yankee Romine brother.
It’s not really a huge mistake lol. Owings turned them into a 105 loss team instead of a 103 loss team aha?
Soler won’t be a free agent till 2022. He is making 4.66 million in 2020 and hits arbitration on 2021
He can opt in to arbitration after this year as part of his contract.
That is what I understand also.
Moore doesn’t like going to arbitration. So, signing Jorge should be the goal. Give him 2/$25 ($10 + $13.5, with a $1.5 mutual) and be done with it.
If you’re going to do that you might as well go for a Nelly Cruz level AAV on a 5 year deal. Buy out 3 years of FA and make the total deal 5yr/$60-65m that would keep him on the royals thru his age 32 season.
he hit 48 home runs. that’s worth at least 3 years / 38 minimum
Whoa! This is the first year that Soler has not missed 50-100 games due to injury. I’m sure the DH role helped here, but it would be wise to wait a year before signing him long term and see if he can repeat his 2019 performance.
Much like Mozeliak waited for Mikolas to repeat his fluke 2018 season by giving him 4/68?
Walt Weiss will be Royals Manager.
Has there been any mention of Carlos Beltran as manager? Probably doesn’t make sense, but it would be neat to see him in a Royals uniform again.
No….And Raul ibanez doesn’t want to be a manager until his kids are much older.
he’s waiting for Dave Roberts to get the ax or retire
Every report I have read about Beltran is that he is waiting for the right opportunity for him, whatever he means by that.
Vandals Took The Handles
A great organization led by a great GM.
But short of Keller, and knowing they cannot pay Kennedy $16m to work out of the bullpen, they may not have another legit pitcher on their ML roster.