Following a World Series victory of 2015, 2016 was certainly a let down for the Kansas City Royals. The team followed up its championship with a season that saw them fail to make the playoffs, finishing 81-81, which placed them in third place in the AL Central. The team finished 13 and a half games behind the AL champions the Cleveland Indians in the division, while finishing eight games out from a Wild Card game.
As the team looks ahead to 2017, the team finds itself in a very hard spot. The club will be looking to contend in 2017, and make it back to the playoffs. But the team is loaded with players entering their contract years, and with a farm system that is not as strong as it once was, the team needs to consider moving some pieces to add some controllable youth. The most likely scenario will see the team hold most of its core players into the season, then ship them out at the trade deadline if they are out of it.
Now with the Winter Meetings nearly upon us, let’s take a closer look at where the Royals stand moving forward.
Positions of Need
One more offensive starter: One of the interesting things about the club is that their is no clear cut position of need. Several positions could use an upgrade, but given the team’s current situation, I only foresee the team pursuing one new starter. They have multiple options for second base, and the market it weak. The club could use an upgrade in the outfield, which may be the most likely route they take. Or they could opt to add a new DH with the departure of Kendrys Morales, but they also may let Mike Moustakas DH in and let Cheslor Cuthbert man third.
Starting Pitching: Perhaps the team’s biggest need comes in the starting rotation. Danny Duffy had a nice breakout season in 2016, and is set to be the lead man going forward. But behind him, the team has plenty of inconsistent options. The team will need to add at least one arm to the staff if it hopes to compete and make a playoff push in 2017.
One more offensive starter: The team is likely to be going the trade route to add many players, as they will not giving up any prospects. That would mean they turn to the trade market for any key additions they make. The club could look to acquire former Indian Rajai Davis. He could provide a platoon partner for Jarrod Dyson in the outfield. Or someone like Brandon Moss to play a little DH and possibly platoon with Paulo Orlando. Another possible DH fit could be Mitch Moreland, who could also fit into some form of platoon. Overall, the names the Royals will likely be linked to will be along the lines up the under the radar types like those listed here.
Starting Pitching: The free agent market for starting pitching is pretty weak, but at the end of the day, it is still the more likely route the club takes to fill their void. Veterans Doug Fister and Jason Hammel could be on the teams radar. Colby Lewis and Jake Peavy are two other experienced arms who should come cheap, meaning they are certainly possibilities. If the team wants to take a gamble on a player with a higher upside, but is battling injury risk, recently non-tendered Tyson Ross is a gamble worth taking.
Possible Trade Pieces
Wade Davis: Of everyone on the team, Davis’ name has been the most associated with rumors. In the final year of his deal, and a suitable closer option behind him in Kelvin Herrera, Davis’ days in a Royals’ uniform are likely numbered. The market is loaded with talented relievers, but also plenty of teams who need a closer. Some possible destinations are the Chicago Cubs and the Washington Nationals.
Mike Moustakas: Moustakas is also entering the final year on his deal. Moving Moustakas in a market weak at the position could help raise his value a bit. The Los Angeles Dodgers are currently without a third baseman, and have some young players the Royals would likely want to get their hands on. He is probably a better in season trade candidate, but do not rule out a deal this winter.
Jarrod Dyson: You are going to see a theme here, as Dyson will also be a free agent next winter. He is currently set to platoon this season, but the club could certainly look to turn him into an upgrade. The St. Louis Cardinals are on the hunt for a center fielder, and are a team who could provide the Royals with a starting pitching. The Torontto Blue Jays are also looking for some outfield help, and could prove to be a fit as well.
Lorenzo Cain: Read the part about Dyson. Except Cain is a full time starter who would bring back a much nicer return.
Alcides Escobar: The shortstop market is extremely weak, and he could certainly appeal to clubs who are in desperate need of an upgrade. He is better with the glove than the bat, but he would still be considered a nice add for some teams. A club like the Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals, or Arizona Diamondbacks could come calling to see what the price is for the shortstop.
One Bold Prediction
The club will leave the Winter Meetings minus a few players currently on the roster. Both Wade Davis and Jarrod Dyson will be sent packing over the course of the Winter Meetings. Davis is hands down the most likely member of the team to get dealt, and he will end up in a Cubs uniform. Dyson could have several suitors, and at the end of the day, I see him landing Toronto Blue Jays.
And be sure to check out all of our Winter Meetings coverage here at INSC! You can check out more team previews and other MLB Winter Meetings pieces here!
So what do you think? What will the Royals do during the Winter Meetings? Tell us in the comments!