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Royals Rumblings - News for January 19, 2016

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No baseball makes Jack a dull boy.

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Royals Rumblings - News for January 19, 2016

Projections be damned, Sam Mellinger likes the Royals' chances in 2016.

I believe the Royals are the best team in the American League, and by a fairly significant margin the best team in the American League Central. They proved themselves to be both last year, their most important players are generally in the age range where you wouldn’t expect them to start fading. Ben Zobrist will be missed, and injuries can screw up anyone’s season. In particular, the Royals are vulnerable if Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, or Salvador Perez are unavailable for extended periods.

To be what they expect, they really need Yordano Ventura to grow up and pitch to his ability instead of being distracted by nonsense. Nothing between 85 and 105 wins would be shocking, and nothing in the 90s would be at all surprising. A lot of this will depend on how they handle success, which is one of the most underrated parts of sports, but the same could have (and was) said last year.

Buster Olney at ESPN writes why the Royals pursued Ian Kennedy.

No. 1: The free-agent market for starting pitchers is expected to be incredibly thin after the 2016 season; if evaluators' forecasts are correct, only a handful of attractive pitchers will be drawing a lot of attention -- which would not be a good bidding situation for the Royals. Kansas City has grabbed second- and third-tier starters in recent offseasons, from Jeremy Guthrie to Jason Vargas to Edinson Volquez, and the next two winters, even that type of pitcher might not be available to them. So the Royals decided to move pre-emptively. In effect, they're paying a little more now to grab the kind of free agent they have a shot with in Kennedy, for at least two years. After 2017, the right-hander can opt out of his contract.

John Viril at Kings of Kauffman thinks the Royals should have signed Scott Kazmir instead of Kennedy.

Not only does the soon to be 32-year-old Kazmir project to perform better than Ian Kennedy next season, he signed for more favorable terms than Ian Kennedy. Of course, Kazmir missed a season with injury troubles before returning with the Indians in 2013. Thus you have to figure that Kazmir poses more health risk. But, on the other hand, Kazmir would give the rotation another lefty besides Danny Duffy—who could end up in the pen.

The big advantage of Kazmir’s contract is $22 million less risk, though he did get an opt-out clause after the first season rather than at two-years as with the Kennedy deal. Perhaps the KC Royals really wanted to lock in a mid-rotation starter for the next two seasons while they still have Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Wade Davis, Danny Duffy, and Jarrod Dyson under team control. Or they very much value Kennedy’s track record as an inning-eater.

David Lesky at Pine Tar Press looks at what's next for the Royals.

I would bet that the Royals preference here would be for Austin Jackson to be able to be had for a bargain, which could definitely happen. Otherwise, I’m not sure how likely these names are other than Francoeur, and that’s only because of his past and his connection with Dayton Moore. Marlon Byrd is especially interesting to me. He still has very good power, and that would be nice to have to start against lefties and to pinch hit for Dyson late in games. He’d definitely be my choice on a one-year deal. Doing that would likely send Paulo Orlando into a fifth outfielder role or Cuthbert to Omaha, which I do think would improve the team.

Olney ranks the Royals as the top defense in baseball.

Look, both Arizona and Kansas City are worthy of the No. 1 spot, and compelling arguments can be made for both. A couple of developments swung the top spot to the Royals, though. First of all, Kansas City was able to retain four-time Gold Glove-winning left fielder Alex Gordon with a four-year deal. Gordon is not as dominant defensively as he was a few years ago, when he was a shutdown corner outfielder in the way that Heyward is now, but he's still very good out there, still makes plays, still works relentlessly. It also appears that the speedy Jarrod Dyson is poised to get more playing time in the outfield than he has in recent seasons, and since he'll be alongside Gordon and Lorenzo Cain, a whole lot of balls driven into the gaps against K.C. will be run down. It's a good time to be a Kansas City pitcher.

The Royals have signed veteran left-handed reliever David Huff to a minor league deal. Huff played in three games for the Dodgers last year and has a 5.08 ERA in 388 big league innings with the Indians, Yankees, Giants, and Dodgers.

Jen Nevius at Drinking the Blue Aid gives your weekly Royals Winter Leagues recap.

Clubhouse Conversation talks to former Royals pitcher Derek Wallace, known for being in the Brian McRae trade.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James fleshed out details on the Urban Youth Baseball Academy.

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