The quiet time of the offseason has arrived. There’s always a market for the guys who thought they’d get huge deals and haven’t yet, but the bargains aren’t going to sign for a little while longer. They’ll hold out hope for a bigger deal while a lot of the larger deals have already been completed. Add in that the free agent market was one of the weakest in recent memory and you have just a terribly boring offseason, especially for Royals fans where the rumors have even been hard to come by. At least we’re now within two months of pitchers and catchers reporting. Take solace in that if we end up getting snow this weekend.
- I feel like maybe we’re shortchanging the Royals a little bit in terms of what this team is capable of doing. If you look at the team in 2016, they were able to go 81-81 while losing their best position player for basically one-third of the season, their third baseman for most of the season, in addition to losing their left fielder for awhile and then him hitting poorly for most of the rest of the time. They also struggled with their fifth starter and had some holes in middle relief that we aren’t accustomed to seeing from this team. They still have their issues, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think it’s crazy to think that just getting their three big offensive players for hopefully a full season could easily add five or six wins. Now, health is most definitely not guaranteed, but this is a core that is just a season removed from winning 95 games with a rotation that I don’t think was significantly better than the 2017 rotation can be and with a lineup that is probably better, but has a chance to be comparable to this year’s unit. That’s more of an if, but I think there’s potential with this offense, even if it’s less likely. The one thing to me is the bullpen, where they need some reinforcements, but even with that need, there’s still plenty of relief talent on this team. The KC Baseball Vault looked at the relief options in their latest podcast.
- Let’s talk about that rotation. I’ve said this before, but a top three of Danny Duffy, Yordano Ventura and Ian Kennedy is one that I’m happy to be fronting the rotation. There’s not a stand out ace among those three necessarily, but Duffy showed that kind of potential for a long stretch in 2016, so he could be that guy while Ventura still has the talent to figure it out, even if it’s becoming less likely with each passing season. And Ian Kennedy as your three is pretty darn solid. Ideally, he’d be the fourth best starter, but I continue to believe there’s potential in this rotation. As I’ve said all offseason, they need to find some depth, and I still think Jhoulys Chacin is a great answer for that question, but I guess time will tell if that comes to fruition. One thing that I’ll say is that if Kyle Zimmer makes 20 or more starts for the Royals in 2017, they will make the postseason. No, I’m not counting on that by any stretch of the imagination, but if it does happen, I feel confident in saying Zimmer will be the third best starter at worst and will turn the rotation from a bit of a question to a strength of the team.
- There’s been a lot of talk about the Nationals trade with the White Sox for Adam Eaton and whether or not they gave up too much. On one hand, the Nationals gave up an awful lot of talent in Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning for a guy who isn’t a star. Eaton is a guy who does a lot of things really well, but nothing exquisitely unless you buy his defensive numbers in right field in 2016 (and even if you do, he’ll be in center field in Washington). Giolito and Lopez were Washington’s top two pitching prospects and Dunning was their first round pick, so that’s a haul. It seems like too much. On the other hand, Eaton has been worth 14 WARP over the last three seasons and has been remarkably consistent. His OBPs over the last three years are .362, .361 and .362. I’m sure the Nationals have investigated the drop in 2015 to determine that it won’t happen again. Plus, he’s under contract for a baseball cheap price through 2021. And that’s even before you factor in that the Nationals (and much of baseball) had soured on Giolito. I still think they probably gave up a little too much, but they got their guy and did nothing to hurt the big league team while getting rid of a player before he lost more value. I think both teams did well and it’s not nearly the bloodbath that I thought it was originally.
- I mentioned the lineup’s potential earlier. If the trio mentioned before is healthy and Jorge Soler is able to improve with regular playing time, I think the whole lineup is much better. I’ve mentioned in previous articles that I think a lot of Eric Hosmer’s issues came from being a focal point. A hopefully deeper lineup should help him. I still believe the Royals need another bat to put either at the top of the lineup or in the middle. Based on the market, it would make sense for the Royals to get involved for one of the designated hitter types out there, but they seem so hellbent on a rotation at DH that I don’t see that happening, so I don’t know where they find what they need. The only real spot where I could see them looking would be at second base, and there’s just not much out there unless they go back to a player I thought they’d be targeting this season, Eduardo Nunez. Josh Harrison probably remains available, but he doesn’t really solve the problem of someone to hit in the middle of the lineup or at the top. So I guess what I’m telling you is that I think they need one more piece for the lineup, but I have no idea where he comes from.