The Kansas City Royals won the World Series in 2015 and have been on a long rebuild since. They made drastic improvements after back-to-back 100-loss seasons in 2018 and 2019. After going 26-34 in the shortened 2020 season, they went 74-88 in 2021. They embraced the youth movement in their rotation, becoming the first team to start five players from the same draft class. Those players were Brady Singer, Kris Bubic, Daniel Lynch, Jackson Kowar, and Jon Heasley who the Royals drafted in 2018. To make even more strides in an increasingly weaker AL Central, Kansas City will need to look at adding some important pieces. They don’t have many free agents, and none are likely to be back as they are older. Most notable is starting pitcher Kyle Zimmer, who is going into his age-30 season.
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With the inexperience of the rotation, there will need to be some veteran leadership to help carry the load. Mike Minor just isn’t the guy that’s going to cut it in that role. The lineup was one of the lower-tier offenses in the league, so they need to add a prominent bat or two. Both Hanser Alberto and Ryan McBroom are free agents, who both put up respectable numbers for the Royals.
Keys to the Offseason
Get Even Younger
Even as young as they were last season, the Royals still have some aging players taking up roster spots. Minor and Carlos Santana are the top two that come to mind, each of who had very disappointing seasons in 2021. Moving on from them in the offseason would be smart unless they somehow think they can get any sort of production from them to up their value prior to the trade deadline. Trading aging veterans is something the Royals have failed to do in the past. They held onto guys like Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer following their World Series win, and instead lost them for nothing in free agency.
Add a Veteran Starter
Outside of Minor, the oldest starting pitcher the Royals currently have on the roster is 26-year-old Brad Keller. Of the seven starters besides Minor, their average age is 25, and they need someone to help glue it together. There are a number of veteran arms on the market that they can target to help mentor their young arms. It won’t be a surprise to see the Royals move on from Minor, but perhaps they will wait until after grabbing someone else.
The left-hander would immediately become the Royals’ ace after having an outstanding season with the Chicago White Sox. In 24 starts, Rodon posted a 2.37 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 185 strikeouts in 132 2/3 innings, finishing fifth in AL Cy Young voting. While he obviously comes with risk with his injury history, signing Rodon would help manager Mike Matheny work on progressing his youngsters. With a move like this, the Royals could be a potential contender in 2022. The southpaw will likely be looking for a hefty multi-year deal following the season he had, so the Royals can’t be afraid to open their wallets.
The Royals could use a versatile outfielder to mold their offense together. With the New York Mets making several splashes, including for center fielder Starling Marte, Conforto is all but certain to sign elsewhere. He fits the bill of versatile outfielder and strong bat Kansas City needs in their lineup. He has played all three outfield spots, with left field being his strongest one. In left, he had 10 DRS versus 3 DRS in right field. His ARM (outfield arm runs above average) in left field is 3.4 and his ARM in right field is 5.2.
In addition to his defensive prowess, Conforto would add a great left-handed power bat to the lineup. He has a career 124 wRC+, career .352 wOBA, and 16.9 career WAR. The Royals have a lot of youth either in the big leagues or on their way soon in the offense. The seven-year veteran would provide a great presence in the lineup, in the field, and in the dugout.
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