The Royals have, perhaps unexpectedly, become the first team to make a notable transaction at the Winter Meetings, reportedly coming to agreement on a one-year deal with speedy centerfielder Billy Hamilton. Along with the signing of Chris Owings, the Royals have already spent more than half of the $14 million they committed to free agents last off-season.
The Royals reportedly wanted to cut payroll down to around $85-90 million, down significantly from last year’s Opening Day payroll of $123 million. The Royals were able to cut much of that payroll through last year’s mid-season trades and allowing players to leave free agency. Their current obligations, even with the Owings and Hamilton signings, have them within their projected payroll range.
Royals’ 2019 payroll
All figures from Cot’s Contracts.
The Royals have 11 players signed to a total of $80 million. With the remainder of the roster filled out by pre-arbitration-eligible players, that would add about $8-9 million more, putting the projected payroll just under $90 million.
The Royals have described their “break-even” point for payroll at $115 million, but that was assuming 2 million in attendance. However, even with fewer fans coming through the turnstiles, the club likely earns more each year from the huge national television deals signed in 2012, and can likely expect a big boost when they finalize a new local television deal in the next year. So there should be some flexibility with the payroll. Dayton Moore always seems to undersell his budget, then make a few late signings as opportunities to arise. The Royals will still need to fill holes in the bullpen, and may even want to add a starting pitcher or upgrade at third base.
Let’s take a look at the organizational depth chart right now. This isn’t officially how the Royals view things, it is just my best guess at the depth chart. An asterisk (*) indicates the player is on the 40-man roster.
Royals projected depth chart
|C||Salvador Perez*||Cam Gallagher*||Nick Dini||Meibrys Viloria*|
|1B||Ryan O'Hearn*||Frank Schwindel|
|2B||Whit Merrifield*||Rosell Herrera*||Nicky Lopez||Erick Mejia|
|SS||Adalberto Mondesi*||Humberto Arteaga||Jecksson Flores||Angelo Castellano|
|3B||Hunter Dozier*||Cheslor Cuthbert*||Kelvin Gutierrez||Emmanuel Rivera|
|LF||Alex Gordon*||Chris Owings*||Donnie Dewees||Vance Vizcaino|
|CF||Billy Hamilton*||Brian Goodwin*||Nick Heath||Blake Perkins|
|RF||Jorge Bonfiacio*||Brett Phillips*||Elier Hernandez||Khalil Lee|
|SP||Danny Duffy*||Jesse Hahn*||Foster Griffin||Gerson Garabito|
|SP||Jakob Junis*||Jorge Lopez*||Scott Blewett*||Ofredy Gomez|
|SP||Brad Keller*||Eric Skoglund*||Jonathan Dziedzic||Jace Vines|
|SP||Ian Kennedy*||Trevor Oaks*||Jake Kalish||Nolan Watson|
|SP||Heath Fillmyer*||Scott Barlow*||Emilio Ogando||Daniel Tillo|
|RP||Wily Peralta*||Richard Lovelady||Zach Lovvorn||Carter Hope|
|RP||Kevin McCarthy*||Glenn Sparkman*||Yunior Marte||Bryan Brickhouse|
|RP||Brian Flynn*||Conner Greene*||Kevin Lenik||Justin Camp|
|RP||Tim Hill*||Josh Staumont*||Walker Sheller||Anthony Bender|
|RP||Ben Lively*||Michael Ynoa||Sam Selman||Grant Gavin|
|RP||Jake Newberry*||Arnanldo Hernandez*||Gabe Speier||Cristian Castillo|
Owings can play all around the infield and the outfield, will that make Rosell Herrera redundant on the bench? Nicky Lopez will almost certainly begin the year in Omaha, but could be in Kansas City before the end of the year. Cheslor Cuthbert will compete with Hunter Dozier for the third base job, but Dozier offers more positional versatility.
The signing of Billy Hamilton raises questions on how playing time in the outfield will be alloted. Hamilton is likely to start in center, Alex Gordon in left, so that leaves three candidates for the right field job between Brett Phillips, Jorge Bonifacio, and Brian Goodwin, assuming Jorge Soler spends most of his time at DH. Dozier, Phillips and Bonifacio all still have an option year remaining, while Cuthbert, Herrera and Goodwin do not.
The first four spots in the rotation seem like locks, with Heath Fillmyer, Jorge Lopez, and Eric Skoglund likely to compete for the fifth spot, with perhaps Jesse Hahn involved if he is healthy at the start of the year. The bullpen is pretty much wide open. Wily Peralta is probably the only lock at this point. Expect the Royals to bring in some more options here.
What do you expect the Royals to do the rest of the off-season?