This is the 54th day since the conclusion of the World Series. Through 54 days of the MLB off-season, here are the players the Royals have added:
They also re-signed catcher Drew Butera and minor league pitcher Clayton Mortensen. Many of these guys have pretty much no chance of ever making it to the big leagues, and only Butera and Soler are good bets to make next year’s club.
If you’re thinking this has been an awfully quiet off-season, you’re not wrong. This has been the least active off-season of Dayton Moore’s career thus far. Below is a chart showing his transactions through the first 54 days of the off-season for each year in his tenure. The minor league signings only reflect transactions significant enough to show up in the Baseball-Reference transaction register, players with any Major League experience.
|Trades||MLB FA||Minor FA||Waivers||Players acquired||Notable players added|
|2006||3||4||12||0||20||Gil Meche, Octavio Dotel|
|2007||1||3||2||1||7||Jose Guillen, Alberto Callaspo|
|2008||2||3||10||1||16||Mike Jacobs, Coco Crisp|
|2009||1||1||14||0||18||Jason Kendall, Chris Getz|
|2010||2||2||2||3||14||Alcides Escobar, Melky Cabrera|
|2011||2||3||10||1||18||Jonathan Sanchez, Jonathan Broxton|
|2012||4||1||10||3||21||James Shields, Ervin Santana|
|2013||2||2||8||0||12||Omar Infante, Nori Aoki|
|2014||6||5||4||1||18||Kendrys Morales, Alex Rios|
|2015||1||2||8||0||11||Joakim Soria, Chris Young|
The Royals selected players in the Rule 5 draft in 2006 (Joakim Soria), 2009 (Edgar Osuna) and 2010 (Nate Adcock).
The decline in activity in recent years makes some sense. The Royals were building a team in the early years, and did not have much talent, so they had to try and find talent everywhere they could. More recently, they have built a stable franchise full of talented players, so fewer transactions were needed.
But we have still seen a significant decline in activity even from last year, when the Royals were coming off a World Championship. The only notable transaction at all was the trade of Wade Davis to the Cubs for Jorge Soler. Last year by this point in the off-season, the Royals had already added Joakim Soria, Chris Young, and were at least rumored to be in on re-signing Alex Gordon, which they would do after the first of the year. In past years, Dayton Moore has actually been quick to pull the trigger on moves, jumping on trades immediately following the World Series and signing players by the Winter Meetings.
The Royals are not alone in their inactivity. Neither the Detroit Tigers and Cincinnati Reds have signed a single Major League free agent. It has definitely been a slow off-season around baseball. Activity was initially held up by uncertainty surrounding the new labor agreement. Now, however, teams may be waiting on a few big free agents to begin making decisions.
We may also be seeing a trend in teams waiting out free agents. Last year was also a slow-moving market for free agents, with teams finding deals the longer they waited in the winter. Perhaps general managers have wised up and found patience to be a virtue. With all the analytics in the game, there may also be fewer teams willing to give into agent demands and overpay for mediocre players, although there were certainly still some questionable deals last winter, and even this year.
For the Royals, their inactivity no doubt stems from a decision by ownership to rein in spending. That has hamstrung efforts to improve the ballclub or bring in any free agents and with management perhaps not on the same page, there may even be confusion or uncertainty about the direction of the club this winter.
We should wait until spring training before we sit back and judge the Royals off-season, and even then, we won't know how the moves panned out. But Royals fans are getting restless. They know this team has one more good run in them left, and they want to maximize the window of opportunity. Or they know this team is spent and they want to see the rebuild get underway. Either way, what they don't want to see is the team continue to sit on its hands. Hopefully the new year brings some new faces.