It’s been a pretty hectic last few weeks for me. I somehow convinced someone to both say ‘yes’ to marrying me and then to go through with it, so I’ve been out of commission for a bit. Now I’m back, a married man, and ready to get on with this offseason. Of course, if you’re waiting with me for some Royals action, we’ve talked about how quiet it might be. It’s probably a good thing. As Colby mentioned the other day, the Royals have a young core now that at least looks like they might keep them from being horrible in 2019. Of course, what that’s done is left the Royals feeling pretty satisfied everywhere like we’ve talked about a few times already this offseason.
- With the likely limited events of the upcoming offseason, it has me looking ahead to 2019/2020, which is pretty dangerous, but depending on how some of the young guys do this year, the Royals might be looking for some stopgaps to get from the end of the 2019 season to the middle of 2021 or so. A few names to keep an eye on in free agency, to me, are Mitch Moreland, Todd Frazier, Jedd Gyorko, Jarrod Dyson, Ben Zobrist (if he doesn’t retire), Mike Fiers, Erasmo Ramirez and any number of relievers. While things can certainly change over the next 12 months, any of these players might find a year in Kansas City attractive if either just for a job or maybe some nostalgia as their careers wind down. Knowing that outfield and corner infield appear to be the areas where the team might need a boost in 2020 is sort of comforting because there are passable options out there. Of course, there always seem to be passable first baseman (a la Lucas Duda), but even so, this is a short list for what the Royals might go after in 2020 in order to remain respectable while waiting on the next wave that should start to show up in the next couple seasons.
- One thing that I hadn’t really considered until really just now is how much bad the Royals are replacing on their 2018 roster heading into 2019. Of course, that doesn’t mean the replacement won’t be as bad or maybe even worse, but with the losses of Mike Moustakas, Jon Jay, Lucas Duda, Ryan Goins, Abraham Almonte, Cheslor Cuthbert (likely), Drew Butera, Paulo Orlando, Alcides Escobar (hopefully), Kelvin Herrera, Jason Hammel, Burch Smith (hopefully), Blaine Boyer, Brandon Maurer (hopefully), Justin Grimm and Enny Romero, the Royals are actually ridding themselves of -3.8 WARP. So simply replacing that with guys who really belong on AAA and are the definition of replacement level will bring the Royals four more wins. Go out and get some one-win players to replace them and that’s how they get from horrific to simply bad without really having to do anything. The top of the roster still needs an overhaul, and that’s something that might happen naturally too if Adalberto Mondesi keeps up his second half work, Whit Merrifield continues to be this player and Jorge Soler comes back healthy. But the biggest issue for the time being is that the bottom of the roster was just so horrible in 2018 that it weighed down everything. I think a good first step is bringing that up and then going from there. Of course, there will be bad players on the roster. It’s a matter of minimizing them as much as possible.
- Gold Glove finalists were announced yesterday and while the award is a silly one, it has gotten better. The days of Rafael Palmeiro winning it while barely playing first base are over, as they actually utilize some analytics in the process. The Royals had two finalists and if you watched the team for more than a handful of games, you know it’s Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez. By pretty much all accounts, Gordon was the best left fielder in baseball. Again. And he’s doing it as now one of the slower players in baseball, so he’s getting by with instinct, arm and just some natural talent there. So I think it would be a huge upset if he doesn’t win given that he’s got the history and the name and the numbers to back it up. Perez had his streak snapped last year, so he’s going for his fifth again this season and compared to Gomes and Maldonado (last year’s winner), I do think he comes out on top as well. He really upped his caught stealing numbers and that means something to the voters. So my guess is even in a terrible season, the Royals have two familiar Gold Glovers.
- As the Royals transition from their last good team to hopefully their next, there are a few different types of players they have on their roster. One of them is the type we’ve talked a fair amount about and that’s the guys who really seem to have a short time to make an impact and an impression. One of those guys is Brian Goodwin. With Brett Phillips, he has some time, but Goodwin seems like one of those guys who can either become a part of the future in 2019 or can become a footnote of players who just happened to be on the Royals roster at some point in time. I was actually somewhat impressed by him last season in his short time with the Royals. He seemed to play a solid center field and flashed enough power to keep teams honest. The UZR numbers backed up the solid defense, though the sample is still way too small for defensive purposes. I don’t think Goodwin is a starter on the next Royals playoff team, but he’s still young enough that he can play a valuable role, and I’m very excited and curious to see how he fares in 2019 for them.