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Meet OMD’s 2017 Shadow Royals - A Simulation Retrospective

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Cyborg-free in 2017

Kansas City Royals v Chicago White Sox Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images

For the fourth time, I took the reins of the Royals in the SB Nation Off-season Simulation that Max has presided over since birthing that baby. For those who need a primer, the Simulation happened here and Max’s wrap-up was here. If you’re even more of a glutton for punishment, here is last year’s team, which I intend to write about in the next week or so.

If you don’t have the time or desire to head over to those links, the premise is simple: each team is run by a writer/member of their SB Nation team community (with a few exceptions where a Royals Review scribe like Shaun Newkirk or Matt LaMar takes over for a team that gets no takers). They run that team in their own vision. With 30 new general managers jumping into faux-management positions, there are more moves for each team than there would be in real life, of course, but the participants are given a budget to try to work within based upon either a little bit of inflation from the previous season’s team payroll or statements from the organization stating a new projected payroll figure. So each team ends up operating as though they were A.J. Preller or Dave Stewart in their first seasons. Whether that is to the detriment or benefit of their teams is up for debate, but there is plenty of precedent in reality for this scenario playing out on a single-team scale.

As is the case in seemingly every season, Dayton Moore stated early in the Royals’ off-season that payroll would be lower than we fans would expect. It’s a game he plays, one which makes his boss look magnanimous when he loosens the purse-strings and signs that medium-sized name to help try to make a difference. It’s also a game that hurts the Shadow Royals every year, but given that my Shadow Royals have generally outperformed the real Royals once playing time is evened out, I have grown to accept this as a necessary leveling of the playing field. This is said mostly in jest, as I’m not competing against the Theo Espstein or Andrew Friedman brain trusts, but the fact does remain that I generally operate on a more restrictive budget than Moore’s real-life Royals do.

All that being said, the Shadow Royals were given a $131MM budget under which to operate, a carryover from their 2016 Opening Day budget.

Starting with the end of season Royals roster, this is how the payroll situation looked for the players over whom the club still had contractual control.

It is not news to any Royals fan that wiggle room is non-existent insofar as the presumed 2017 Royals roster is concerned. The first orders of business for the Shadow Royals were dealing with the options.

One note should be made. The payroll figure I was using for Salvador Perez was the one from the sim. When Perez signed his new extension, there was a $6MM signing bonus. That bumped his payroll figure up $1.2MM higher per season than I had accounted for when figuring my payroll. As he received that bonus last season, I could probably justify only counting that towards last year. Instead I’m counting it against the Shadow Royals’ payroll going forward. As a result, my payroll will end up $1.2MM higher than I thought it was during the course of the sim.

My option/arbitration decisions were as follows:

Options

Wade Davis - $10MM club option with a $2.5MM buyout

The Shadow Royals exercised this option in a total no-brainer. Regardless of budget, Davis’s value is inarguable.

Alcides Escobar - $6.5MM club option with a $500K buyout

While the real Royals exercised their option on Escobar, the Shadow Royals issued him a check for $500K. It seems like Escobar’s range is diminished. The value of his production at the plate is pretty much entirely dependent upon BABIP luck, and if he has lost a step (which it seems like he has), then it’s hard to imagine him as someone able to beat out as many infield grounders as he might have been able to two or three years ago, to make no mention of the potential decline in defensive value. In short, I felt like I could get comparable production for less money, which was enough reason for me to cut him loose given my budgetary constraints.

Edinson Volquez - $10MM mutual option with a $3MM buyout

With the presumption of the player opting out to seek more money in free agency, the Shadow Royals exercised their option, but Volquez declined his end, resulting in a $3MM buyout.

Kendrys Morales - $11MM mutual option with a $1.5MM buyout

Same story as Volquez. $1.5MM buyout.

Luke Hochevar - $7MM mutual option with $500K buyout

With Hochevar having undergone surgery to repair Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, it was hard to stomach paying $7MM in 2017 for Hochevar’s services. The budget was simply stretched too thin to spend that much on a reliever with a questionable bill of health and only one year of club control. The Shadow Royals declined their half of the mutual option resulting in a $500K buyout.

Kris Medlen - $10MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout

No explanation needed here. Shadow Royals buy out their end of the mutual option to the tune of $500K.

Arbitration

Eric Hosmer - $13.3MM, final year of arbitration; Danny Duffy - $8.2MM, final year of arbitration; Kelvin Herrera - $5.2MM, third of four years of arbitration; Jarrod Dyson - $2.5MM, final year of arbitration

All of these were offered arbitration. Despite his questionable value (at least per WAR calculations), Hosmer at least has the theoretical value of his arbitration figure here. The rest are obvious choices to keep in house at those prices.

Dillon Gee - $3.6MM, final year of arbitration; Daniel Nava - $1.5MM, final year of arbitration; Tim Collins - 1.5MM, final year of arbitration; Tony Cruz - $1.0MM, third of four years of arbitration

The services of this quartet were not retained for 2017. Gee struggled and then got shut down to undergo TOS surgery, Collins’s first Tommy John surgery was unsuccessful and begat a second, and Cruz and Nava were non-factors who do not figure into the Shadow Royals’ plans.

Payroll update

After exercising options and offering arbitration to players, the Shadow Royals’ payroll (filling in the roster with players at league minimum and using $500K as league minimum for the sake of ease) looks like this:

Since Max wasn’t holding the buyouts against me on the spreadsheet, I’m going to refrain from counting them entirely against me. Still, I will account for them here, as it would be hard to argue that the interest accrued on Meche money is enough to apply to the $6.5MM spent on buyouts this time around. So after arbitration and options are exercised, the Shadow Royals’ payroll stands at $126.9MM, leaving $4.1MM of budget room.

Moves

Prospects Bubba Starling, Orlando Calixte, and Jake Junis trade to Miami Marlins for shortstop Adeiny Hechevarria and prospect Isaiah White

This trade actually came together before options had been decided upon. Heading into the sim, I’d intended to cut Alcides Escobar loose. I did not want to allocate $6.5MM to a player whose value I felt was replaceable. Still without Escobar, the Shadow Royals had a need for a shortstop lest they head into 2017 with Raul Mondesi Jr., Christian Colon, Whit Merrifield, or a papier-mâché rendering of Angel Berroa filling that spot. For the sake of Mondesi’s development, this was a roll of the dice I’d prefer to avoid.

Matt LaMar - filling in as the General Manager of the Marlins in his first sim - let it be known that Cuban shortstop Adeiny Hechevarria was available via clandestine back channels.

Hechevarria was due to make $3.7MM in his second year of arbitration with one more year of club control remaining after that. 2017 will be his age-28 season, and he is coming off two seasons in which he was worth a combined 3.3 rWAR and 3.5 fWAR. His 2016 was less than inspiring with the bat (.256 wOBA, 56 wRC+), but he also suffered through a .269 BABIP campaign - .028 points lower than his .297 career mark and .056 lower than his 2015 or .054 lower than his 2014 marks. Without a corresponding dip in his batted-ball profile (his LD% was in line with his career marks, his Hard% was higher than in any other season, and his IFFB% was actually the lowest of his career) and the best BsR mark of his career, it’s hard to say that his disappointing offensive season was the result of anything other than bad luck.

On the surface, it seems like Hechevarria is just Alcides Escobar. Of course, Hechevarria is two-plus years younger, has graded out better defensively in each of the past two seasons, and has an extra year of club control. As you will see going forward club control is a key point of concern for these Shadow Royals.

In looking at the prospects given up, I parted ways with Bubba Starling, Jake Junis, and Orlando Calixte. In terms of future with the organization, Calixte is so far down the organizational shortstop pecking order that he’s essentially Irving Falu 2.0 - a warm body in Omaha with no real future in Kansas City. Junis had a nice run in AA - Northwest Arkansas but got shellacked in his first taste of the PCL this year in his age-23 season. I like Junis, but I’m not married to him. As for Starling, it felt like this was the last chance to get anything of value for him. I have abandoned hope that he will ever figure it out. As such I’m not going to hold on dearly to a fourth or fifth outfielder.

In Isaiah White, I got a pure defensive centerfielder with a raw offensive profile. A third-round pick out of high school in 2015, White started 2016 in Extended Spring Training before heading to the New York - Penn League. He had a solid walk rate but struck out a lot. He’s a long ways off, but his speed rates somewhere in the 70-80 grade range, which is a skill you can’t teach. He’s essentially a lottery ticket (or a powerless Bubba Starling), but his draft status and player profile hints at a high enough ceiling to make me a little hopeful.

This move put the Shadow Royals’ payroll at $130.1MM.

Jarrod Dyson traded to the Baltimore Orioles for prospects Jomar Reyes and Richard Rodriguez

Nearly every inquiry I had early on was asking about Dyson’s availability. I love Dyson and didn’t really want to move him. He’s a source of a ton of surplus value. However, extensions are not a thing that can be done in the sim, and you’ll see shortly that this team is being built for future contention.

Offers from other GM’s consisted of prospects like Renato Nunez who are closer to the majors with higher floors but lower ceilings. Jomar Reyes was the youngest player in the Carolina League this year, spending the whole season in high-A at 19. After a strong 2015 as an 18-year-old in A-ball, he struggled in Frederick. From my cursory but potentially insufficient research, Orioles’ hitting prospects tend to struggle there (Manny Machado hit worse there than at any other level in the minors), but it was undoubtedly a bump in the road and likely knocks him off John Sickels’s prospect list (he was #161 heading into the season, along with cracking KATOH’s top 100 list). Some of the struggles may have been related to his recovery from a broken hamate bone (particularly any steps back in the power department), but it’s possible he was overmatched and will remain that way.

Richard Rodriguez is a 6’4” right-handed reliever who has spent the bulk of the last three seasons in the high minors. His K-rates have been solid. His BB-rates are palatable. His proximity to the majors means I’m adding cheap depth to the back end of the bullpen for 2017.

As much as I valued Dyson, it seemed like other owners were not willing to part with what I thought he was worth. This was the package I talked myself into settling for, as I actually like Reyes. This put the Shadow Royals’ payroll at $128.1MM.

Drew Butera signed to a one-year, $1.2MM deal

Needed more hairflips. Payroll at $128.8MM.

Louis Coleman signed to a one-year, $750K deal

Come home, Louis. Bullpen depth further addressed. Payroll at $129.05MM.

Vance Worley signed to a minor-league deal

It always feels like the Shadow Royals are left without much rotational depth in these sims. Worley agreed to a deal worth $750K if added to the 25-man roster with bonuses of $250K if he makes 10, 20, and 30 starts in Kansas City. There is also a player opt-out on June 1 if not added to the big-league roster by that point.

Mat Latos signed to a one-year, $2MM deal

This may not be the sexiest signing in the world, but there is very little money being spent here, and he was worth between 3.1 and 4.8 fWAR for four straight year from 2010 to 2013. If he is even worth the 1.5 fWAR he was worth two seasons ago, he will have been worth much more than he’ll have been paid by the Shadow Royals. He only needs to be worth somewhere in the 0.2 - 0.3 win range for him to have been worth his salary. This puts the Shadow Royals payroll at $130.55MM.

Paulo Orlando traded to Miami Marlins for prospect Luis Castillo

Having already shipped Jarrod Dyson and Bubba Starling off, I’m playing with fire with the organizational depth chart in the outfield here. Matt LaMar wanted Orlando and offered Luis Castillo. After seeing that he’d been dealt to the Padres in that Andrew Cashner deal, then being informed by Matt that he’d been sent back after Colin Rea’s bill of health raised alarm bells, it wasn’t hard to pull the trigger on this deal. Castillo’s fastball sits in the high-90s and touches 101 MPH. His second go-around at high-A was strong enough to have me hopeful. Orlando is nice, but he’s about to turn 32 and is coming off a season where his .380 BABIP inflated his value. He’s strong defensively, but he is due for some pretty serious regression to the mean offensively.

Yordano Ventura, Wade Davis, and Kelvin Herrera traded to the Pirates for second baseman / outfielder Adam Frazier and prospects Kevin Newman, Cole Tucker, Nick Kingham, Alen Hanson, Steven Brault, and Willy Garcia

This was the big one. First things first, I am not even remotely confident that Wade Davis will make it through this next season. I feel like his UCL is a ticking time bomb, and he wasn’t nearly as effective in 2016 as he had been since first getting converted back to relief in 2013. I also feel like Ventura is unlikely to become the pitcher that it seems like he should be given his stuff. His contract is where the value lies in this deal from Pittsburgh’s perspective, and he’d likely provide Royals with surplus value over the length of his deal, but dealing someone with his value means getting a lot more in return. If he were to go to hypothetical Ray Searage, he’d probably turn from Ramon Martinez into Pedro Martinez, but the Shadow Royals don’t have Ray Searage. I am very high on filthy, three-plus-pitch Herrera, but to get Newman back in the deal, I needed to include Herrera.

Oakland Athletics  v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

As for the pieces I got in return, Frazier, Hanson, and Brault all made their major-league debuts in 2016, though only Frazier logged significant time. Newman and Tucker were Pittsburgh’s first-round draft picks in 2015 and 2014, respectively. Using MLB.com’s prospect chart, Newman, Tucker, Kingham, Hanson, Brault, and Garcia were ranked Pittsburgh’s #4, #7, #10, #13, #14, and #15 prospects.

Frazier was worth 0.7 fWAR with a .335 wOBA and 110 wRC+ in 66 games this past season, and in his professional career has logged time at second, short, third, left, center, and right, and bats from the left side, making for a potential platoon partner with Billy Burns. It’s entirely possible he was hitting above his weight this past season, but at the very least he allows for positional flexibility and addresses some of the concerns with depth in the outfield that have been opened up in the wake of dealing Dyson and Orlando in addition to being a potential salve to the problems at second.

Kingham and Brault are both close to being major-league-ready back-end-of-the-rotation arms. Before his Tommy John surgery, Kingham was #50-#100 ranked prospect. His stuff isn’t sexy, but he doesn’t walk guys and strikes enough out to expect that he can stick in the bigs. Steamer was bullish on Brault for 2017, though projections on guys with little MLB experience are as volatile as our current political climate. Hanson bounced around the bottom half of prospect lists for the last few years but looks to be blocked by Jung Ho Kang and has done little with his fleeting opportunities. Tucker is a defense-first shortstop with plus speed. Hopefully the hit tool develops enough to let him stick.

The real get here, though, is Newman, who currently finds himself the #41 prospect on MLB.com and #94 on Sickels’s preliminary end of 2016 prospect list. Keith Law was insanely high on him heading into 2016, ranking him #23 overall. In 2016, he dominated high-A and hit above league-average in 61 games in Double-A, doing it all while indicating that he should be able to stick at shortstop. He could be ready as soon as late 2017, though there would be no need to rush him.

I would have preferred dealing Herrera and Davis in separate deals trying to maximize their value, but the offers I sent out for teams with an apparent need for either reliever’s services were met with tepid responses at best. After dealing of Ventura, Davis, and Herrera, the Shadow Royals’ payroll sat at $113.3MM.

Scott Alexander traded to the Dodgers for Trayce Thompson

After dancing around trying to work a deal out with the Dodgers centered around Yasiel Puig, Jose De Leon, Willie Calhoun, Yordano Ventura, and Lorenzo Cain to no avail, the Dodgers’ GM offered Trayce Thompson from their glut of outfielders. He asked for Scott Alexander. I don’t think particularly highly of Alexander, as the Shadow Royals would buy him a season-pass on the I-29 Shuttle. This seemed like an easy yes to me. Thompson isn’t arbitration eligible until 2019 and certainly seems worth a back of the bullpen arm, even after getting shut down in September with a back injury.

Jesse Chavez signed to a one-year, $4MM deal

Welcome back, Jesse. Chavez was replacement level in 2016 but was worth 2.3 fWAR in 2015 and 1.3 fWAR in 2016. He is also able to pitch from either the pen or the rotation. He only needs to be worth half a win to be worth what he’s getting paid, and I like him to produce more than that if used in the rotation. If he is needed in the pen, it is out of necessity, as the Shadow Royals’ bullpen is shakier than a house of cards built upon the shoulders of a dashboard hula girl. This move puts the Shadow Royals’ payroll at $116.8MM.

Luke Hochevar signed to a one-year, $3MM deal with an $8MM club option for 2018 with a $2.5MM buyout

There is still risk here, as Hochevar is recovering from surgery to correct Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, but the hope is that he’s good enough to help mitigate the loss of Davis and Herrera. At just $5.5MM guaranteed, and only $3MM counting towards 2017’s balance, this deal was a calculated risk. The addition of Hochevar puts the Shadow Royals’ payroll at $119.3MM.

Lorenzo Cain traded to the Red Sox for the rights to Allen Craig, pitcher Henry Owens, and prospects Rafael Devers and Deven Marrero

Lorenzo Cain could be worth 6.4 fWAR again this year, or he could miss one-third of the season in his final year of club control. Despite the potential value inherent in acquiring Cain, there weren’t many lining up for one year of his services. Allen Craig is due $11MM this year and $1MM next year but cleared waivers and is not occupying a spot on the 40-man roster.

As Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benintendi were not coming back in a deal for one year of Lorenzo Cain (per Boston’s GM), I pushed for Devers as the centerpiece of the deal. I absolutely love his bat. I’m not alone. He is currently ranked #16 on MLB’s prospect list and #10 on Sickels’s end-of-year list. Taking on Craig’s contract was necessary to get Devers back in the deal, which is a small price to pay for a prospect of Devers’s ilk. As for the other two, Owens and Marrero have both lost a bit of their luster as they’ve struggled in stints in the majors and high minors respectively. Still, Owens was widely regarded as a top 50 prospect as recently as two offseasons ago, and the lanky southpaw could still put it all together.

MLB: All Star Futures Game David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Losing Cain will hurt, but his one year of club control was converted into one of the game’s best prospects and an arm who could still have an impact. The money in 2017 is a wash, so the Shadow Royals’ payroll is still $119.3MM.

Eric Skoglund traded to the Nationals for Danny Espinosa

The Nationals came a-callin’, offering Espinosa for Skoglund. Skoglund has never struck me as being particularly interesting, prospect-wise. He is a finesse pitcher, which has some value, but at this point, I had added Latos, Chavez, Owens, Worley, Kingham, Brault, and Castillo to the depth chart. Espinosa is in his last year of arbitration and is due $5.3MM, but he serves as insurance in making sure that neither Newman nor Mondesi are needed without them being ready. His versatility can also keep him in the lineup at any number of positions. Worth 2.3 fWAR and 1.7 fWAR over the last two seasons, I like Espinosa to produce at least a little surplus value. Payroll is at $124.1MM.

Peter Moylan signed to a one-year, $1MM deal

Moylan was solid in 2016 and generates ground-ball contact. This seems like an easy way to try to shore up the ‘pen a bit. Payroll? $124.6MM.

Eric Hosmer, Trayce Thompson, and prospects Ashe Russell, Foster Griffin, and Cam Gallagher traded to Rays along with $2MM cash for Drew Smyly, Steven Souza Jr., and prospects Ryne Stanek and Justin O’Conner

This one seemed to raise a lot of eyebrows. Hosmer being due $13.3MM in 2017, his final year of club control, limited his value amongst fellow GMs who align themselves sabermetrically. If I had already moved Cain, Dyson, and Davis (to make no mention of guys with more club control like Herrera or Ventura), then it didn’t make much sense to hold onto Hosmer. His value has generally been limited by his defensive positioning and his penchant for hitting grounders.

Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

After checking in with teams in the market for a first baseman, Tampa seemed to be the only ones interested. They needed to get rid of some salary, so Drew Smyly made sense as my target. I like Smyly quite a bit, as does Steamer, which projects him to be worth 2.5 fWAR in 2017 (0.6 fWAR more than Hosmer is projected for). Smyly is due $6.9MM in 2017 with one more year of arbitration after that. It is not unreasonable to hope for Smyly to be worth four wins over the course of his two seasons as a Shadow Royal, which would certainly seem to be more than Hosmer will be worth this season. If the Rays had just offered two years of Smyly for one expensive year of Hosmer, I would have played it like I wanted more out of the deal, but I still would have taken that deal straight up and felt like I had won the trade without question.

Souza seems like a modest upgrade over Thompson without the specter of a back injury looming in his recent history. Souza missed a little time in 2016 with a minor labrum tear in his hip, but it only required arthroscopic surgery, and he should return to sprinting by December. Thompson has one more year of club control, but I would prefer Souza to Thompson regardless of the fifth year of control.

That leaves the prospects. Getting anything for Ashe Russell or Foster Griffin at this point is a good thing in my book. Russell’s 2016 was an unmitigated disaster. He couldn’t get right enough in Extended Spring Training to throw more than 2.0 innings of live baseball all season. His fastball was getting clocked in the 80s. Griffin has been healthy but has yet to show anything to support his having been taken in the first round in 2014. His 6.23 ERA in 95.1 IP in Wilmington was only moderately tempered by his 4.72 FIP. Cam Gallagher is no more than organizational filler given the presence of Perez, Vallot, and Viloria.

Stanek is basically Foster Griffin, a slightly disappointing late-first-round pick, but unlike Griffin, he could conceivably start contributing at the major-league level soon, as he finished 2016 in AAA, and he can strike out minor leaguers. O’Conner has had a little more seasoning in the high minors than Gallagher, but his bat lags behind Gallagher’s. Neither figure to be more than a back-up catcher in the Shadow Royals’ future plans. This move puts the Royals payroll at $120.2MM.

Alfredo Simon and Blaine Boyer signed to minor-league deals with invites to Spring Training

Depth added at little-to-no cost.

Mike Napoli signed to a two-year deal worth $8MM in 2017 and $10MM in 2018

With a Hosmer-sized hole needing filling and no real internal options close to the majors, I looked toward free agency. Brandon Moss and Mike Napoli were the two options who made the most sense to me, but I slightly preferred Napoli to Moss. The addition of Napoli puts the Shadow Royals’ payroll at $127.7MM, and puts an end to the Shadow Royals’ moves.

End of Simulation Roster

With the disparity in accounting for Perez’s contract, the Shadow Royals’ payroll would have come in at $126MM before factoring in the $6.5MM spent on buyouts, which were not being held against me in my budget on the spreadsheet. The buyouts put me over the $131MM by $1.5MM. If applying the Perez signing bonus to each year, not just to 2016, then the Shadow Royals were $2.7MM over budget. Vance Worley’s potential salary on his minor-league deal isn’t counting against the totals, as he may not make the 25-man roster at all and can opt out on June 1.

Post-mortem

This season I sort of let the sim come to me. Part of this was the result of working through much of the sim, and that work did not lend itself to much in the way of availability to look at other teams and be a pursuant trade partner. Part of this was borne from uncertainty regarding the direction in which the Shadow Royals should head.

Ultimately I came down mostly on the side of a rebuild. There was not much interest in Mike Moustakas when I interjected his name into trade talks, otherwise he’d likely have gone the way of Hosmer, Cain, Dyson, and Davis in his last year of club control. If the sim lasted more than three days, I’d also likely have tried to trade Escobar rather than cut him loose, though hoping to get anything back for him would probably be foolhardy with a largely sabermetrically-inclined pool of trade partners.

Of course when a rebuild is the direction chosen, it’s unlikely that the operating budget wouldn’t be reined in by ownership. There is a fair expectation that the Shadow Royals could see another .500ish season because the funds opened up in trading the key cogs to the Royals’ mini-dynasty were reallocated to players with longer club control. If I was forced to be cutthroat due to budgetary constraints, more pieces would have likely had to have been shipped off. I neither fielded nor proposed offers with Alex Gordon’s or Salvador Perez’s names in them, as both are franchise fixtures, for better or worse, as a modicum of continuity probably matters in maintaining the contentment of a fanbase that could grow incensed. Furthermore, Duffy probably would have netted a fair return, but we cannot work out extensions with players in the sim, and I had every reason to believe that this will happen in real life. When I can hew closer to realistic decisions like not dealing a likely extension candidate, I generally try to for the sake of [semi-]realism.

If a few things broke right, this newest incarnation of the Shadow Royals could even conceivably be in the hunt for a Wild Card spot. A shitload of luck would need to break their way, and the new, likely terrible bullpen and thinned out outfield corps would need to not be an utter disaster, but they could be competitive given a deeper pool of starting pitchers from whom to build a rotation. I’d bet against it, but the goal of this off-season’s endeavor was not necessarily to build a winner for 2017. It could happen.

Regardless, the 2017 Shadow Royals are getting a sizable influx of talent with significantly more control, both in terms of years and cost, something that the present incarnation of the real-life Royals with their barren wasteland of a farm system does not have. In Devers, Newman, Owens, Reyes, et al., the Shadow Royals added potential impact talent. Furthermore, the group of Newman, Owens, Kingham, Hanson, Brault, Garcia, Castillo, Marrero, Stanek, and Rodriguez could all conceivably help the club this year. That’s not to say that their presence will be impactful, but that’s a slew of young talent that’s close to contributing at the major-league level.

The trading of that core of players, particularly Ventura and Herrera, could be costly for longer than desired, but I don’t think I parted ways with any prospects (read: Foster Griffin and Ashe Russell) who factor into the long-term plans of the Royals, Shadow or otherwise. The 2017 Shadow Royals may well finish with lower production (read: a worse record as dictated by WAR) than whatever the real 2017 Royals end up being, but I doubt that deadline deals in what may well be a lost season will net the same return that the players I dealt netted heading into the season, so it seems likely that the turnaround to fielding another sustained competitor has been sped up for these Shadow Royals.

So, what say you, critical spirits? Have I irretrievably ruined the Shadow Royals cursing them to decades of futility the likes of which we are more than familiar with, or is this brave new fake world one in which the Royals can rise to the top soon?