The Royals are still grinding through a rebuild and are undergoing a transition at the ownership level, so it never seemed likely they’d be big players on the open market. The club’s precise plans have remained a mystery, but we’re now finally beginning to get a sense of the shape of the Kansas City offseason.
Kansas City fans won’t likely see much in the way of exciting new talent in 2020, as Jon Heyman of MLB Network tweets that the organization has a “very limited budget” to work with. A decent chunk of what the club has made available is expected to go to veteran outfielder Alex Gordon, with the remainder to be allocated to some pitching additions. That’s not an especially inspiring offseason wish list for an organization that hasn’t posted a winning record since its 2015 World Series-winning effort.
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While some lean years always seemed likely to follow that push, the Dayton Moore-led front office has largely declined to cash in veterans when opportunities have arisen. Players such as Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, Whit Merrifield, and even Salvador Perez would for many teams have been trade bait. Even as the team has strongly indicated a desire for a quick bounce back to relevance — it has touted recent collegiate draft selections and there was even mid-season chatter in 2019 of a Wild Card run — it has been difficult to envision that happening based upon the present assemblage of talent.
The concept of a quick revamping would seem to call for some infusion of MLB talent from outside the organization. But that’s not the only way the club can spend money this winter. Other reporting indicates that the club may believe in its budding new core, but will wait at least another year to add to it.
Though they won’t be spending to add from the outside, the Royals will consider plunking down cash to secure the services of existing players into the future, according to MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan (via Twitter). He lists Jorge Soler, Hunter Dozier, and Adalberto Mondesi as conceivable extension candidates. One might speculatively add hurler Brad Keller to that group as well.
Of that slate of possibilities for long-term deals, only Soler is nearing the open market. While the 27-year-old has finally hit his stride, it’s debatable how wise it would be to lock into a bat-first corner outfielder. But there’s certainly merit to pursuing a deal at the right price. The other players listed have even more still to prove, though Mondesi does offer tantalizing upside as an extension candidate.
It remains to be seen whether talks will advance. There won’t be much of an impact on the 2020 outlook regardless. (It’s not terribly promising.) The most interesting question remaining, then, is whether the Royals will make a dedicated effort to find deals to move Duffy, Kennedy, or (especially) Merrifield.