With the Kansas City Royals out of playoff contention in early September, it’s time to look at some intriguing free option options for 2020. Several weeks ago, I took a look at some pitchers. Here, I’ll look at a few hitters the Royals could sign.
Before getting to that, though, it’s worth noting once again the massive change that is about to happen to the Kansas City Royals organization. David Glass, who’s owned the team for the past 20 years, and his family have agreed to sell the franchise to John Sherman, a local Kansas City businessman who owns a minority share of the Cleveland Indians.
Now, the sale has to be approved by Major League Baseball’s other 29 owners, but that’s a no-brainer. When a team based in one of the league’s smallest markets that is probably going to lose at least 100 games in consecutive seasons is going for a number that begins with the second letter of that alphabet, that means business is booming.
Baseball’s doing just fine, thank you very much.
However, along with the change of ownership comes an amount of uncertainty, including around these three topics:
- What does this mean for general manager Dayton Moore and the rest of the front office?
- What does this mean for manager Ned Yost and the rest of the coaching staff?
- Will Sherman loosen the purse strings any more than did Glass?
My answer to the first two questions would be the same. Even though Sherman has the right to bring in his own people, why rush? Why not wait to see what the fruits of this current rebuild bear? Why force out, or into retirement, the most popular manager in franchise history?
It’s one thing if Yost wants to retire, but if he wants to come back, let him. At least for 2020, which figures to be not so much of a year of competition but one of assessment and review.
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After 2020, Sherman can do his thing. But for now, the smart play would be to keep together the main pieces of the front office and coaching staff.
As far as that third question, well, I have a thought.
There’s a common sentiment for rebuilding clubs that those teams shouldn’t sign vital free agents until the Major League squad is set to compete. But as franchises spend less on free agents, especially on the middle- to low-tier guys, players begin signing deals before reaching free agency, and the market dries up.
Take, for example, Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado. Before this year began, Arenado was set to reach free agency after 2019. As a six-time Gold Glove winner at the hot corner who hits for massive power (at least 37 home runs the past four seasons, including leading the Senior Circuit in homers three times) and average (.350 career OBP), the 28-year-old could have possibly struck a $350 million deal on the open market.
Instead, Colorado’s management smartly signed him to an 8-year, $260 million extension.
Arenado is not alone. In Atlanta, young stars Ozzie Albies (7-year, $35 million) and Ronald Acuna (8-year, $100 million) both re-upped with the Braves long before becoming eligible for free agency. It’s even happening in the American League Central, with the White Sox inking, among others, 22-year-old outfielder Eloy Jimenez to a 6-year, $43 million extension before he even played in a Major League game.
The point is, teams are wrapping up their players, and the players are taking the deals, which in turns deadens the free-agent market.
When a guy lands in free agency, then, any team–but, I’d argue, especially “small market” teams–should try their damnedest to sign that free agent, regardless of it’s going to be a year or two or three before that teams is set to (theoretically) compete.
Especially if that guy plays a position of need.
Overall, as I wrote before the season began, the Royals need to learn from the Padres’ signing of Manny Machado: despite the team not yet being ready to compete, seize the moment and get the bat you know the team needs when that time arrives.
Before I get to the particular player in mind, and then some other more realistic targets, let’s take a look at the current batters for the Kansas City Royals.