Despite Bobby Witt Jr. and Cole Ragans enjoying superstar breakouts, the Royals slumped to a miserable 56-106 record this season and now face tough offseason questions watching yet another MLB postseason at home.
There were certainly positives, particularly in August and September, but the season was over long before that. Fans have grown sick and tired of the losing, while Kansas City ownership knows the team must get better quickly to improve fan sentiment around the new ballpark.
We saw a few players solidify their positions for 2024, but the Royals must improve three key positions to have any shot at returning to October baseball.
3 Positions The Royals Must Improve to Make Playoffs
This goes without saying, as Kansas City's bullpen put forth one of the worst seasons in MLB history. The Royals' bullpen had 25 blown saves in only 53 opportunities while finishing with an AL-worst 5.23 ERA.
Promising stretches from Taylor Clarke and Carlos Hernandez quickly turned to rubble, while proven arms like Scott Barlow and Aroldis Chapman were wisely shipped off. We got Cole Ragans out of it, so that's a huge positive, but now J.J. Picollo must rework the bullpen to get a servicable group together prior to April.
Young arms like Steven Cruz, John McMillon and James McArthur flashed late in the year, providing optimism there are already players in the organization that can positively contribute next season.
Nonetheless, I expect the bullpen to be Picollo's top priority if he's serious about contention.
Perhaps trading away Salvador Perez or Brady Singer could return quality arms or the team could even spend some cash in free agency. No matter what route Picollo chooses, Kansas City flatly cannot enter next year without significant improvements to the bullpen.
Help is needed at the other end of the pitching staff too, though.