With the World Series over, the off-season is now officially upon us. The Royals have a lot they want to accomplish, such as hiring a new manager, transitioning to new owner John Sherman once he is officially approved by MLB, and improving a team that has lost 100+ games in each of the last two seasons.
Here is what you need to know about this off-season for the Royals.
Will John Sherman be approved as the new owner?
It seems like a forgone conclusion that Sherman will be approved when owners have their annual meeting November 19-21 in Arlington, Texas. He has already been vetted by MLB as a minority owner with the Cleveland Indians and MLB seems likely to approve the candidate handpicked by David Glass. We haven’t heard much of anything from Sherman since the sale of the team was announced, although much of the background information on his has been positive.
Will Dayton Moore remain the general manager?
No official announcement has been made, but there is no reason to think Dayton Moore won’t continue to be general manager of the Royals. Sherman is reportedly a fan of Moore’s and there has been at least one report he plans to give Moore a long-term contract.
When will the Royals hire a manager?
Despite the ownership transition, the Royals are moving forward with finding someone to replace retired skipper Ned Yost, with Sherman giving his stamp of approval. They have reportedly interviewed internal candidates such as quality control coach Pedro Grifol, bullpen coach Vance Wilson, and special advisor Mike Matheny, as well as holding remote interviews with external candidates. According to MLB.com reporter Jeffrey Flanagan, bench coach Dale Sveum is not a candidate although he expects to have a role in the organization. Matheny remains the overwhelming favorite, but no announcement has been made, and Moore says the hiring process could be complete by “today, tomorrow or sometime prior to the winter meetings.”
What is the payroll situation?
The payroll went down to $100 milion on Opening Day this year, and it could go down even further as the Royals continue their rebuild. The club has just $60 million committed to players under contract for next year and only a few players eligible for arbitration, although that will likely include Jorge Soler once he opts out of his contract. We don’t know what Sherman will do with payroll, but it is probably safe to say he won’t make a big splash in free agency immediately, and will instead let Dayton Moore continue to build a team with young players.
Wait, Jorge Soler can opt out of his contract? Is he a free agent?
Soler has a unique long-term contract that he signed as an amateur with the Cubs that pays him a base salary of $4.67 million next year, but allows him to opt out of the deal and into the arbitration system. He won’t be a free agent, but he will stand to make more money through arbitration, probably between $8-10 million based on his season. He would still be under club control through the 2021 season, going through arbitration again before that season unless the Royals sign him to a long-term deal.
What Royals are free agents?
The only significant free agent is likely to be Alex Gordon, who will almost certainly have his $23 million mutual option declined by the Royals. Gordo will decide this off-season whether he will continue to play baseball or retire. The Royals have not given an indication that they would bring him back if Gordon decides to continue playing, but Alex has said the Royals are the only team he wants to play for.
Will the Royals look to sign any free agents?
As they did last off-season, the Royals will likely look for bargain free agents that can complement the roster. The team could use some starting pitching depth, although they may not want anyone to block the crop of young starters coming through the minors that could be ready for the big leagues at some point next season. The outfield isn’t entirely set, with question marks around Bubba Starling and Brett Phillips, Alex Gordon possibly retiring, and uncertainty whether Whit Merrifield will play second base or the outfield, if he even stays in Kansas City. And the club could always use more bullpen depth. Here is a list of all MLB free agents.
What is the 40-man roster situation?
The Royals currently have a full 40-man roster and will need to activate Salvador Perez and Kelvin Gutierrez from the 60-day injured list this week. They may also want to add some prospects to protect them from the Rule 5 draft such as outfielders Blake Perkins, Nick Heath and Seuly Matias, and pitchers Foster Griffin, Grant Gavin, Carlos Hernandez, Gerson Garabito, and Yunior Marte. Players that could potentially be taken off the 40-man roster include catcher Nick Dini, infielder Cheslor Cuthbert, outfielder Jorge Bonifacio, and pitchers Jacob Barnes, Scott Blewett, Conner Greene, Randy Rosario, and Jesse Hahn.
What are some dates to know?
Here is a look at the offseason calendar:
October 31 - Eligible players become free agents, but can only negotiate with their current club for a five-day quiet period
November 5 - Free agents can negotiate with all clubs; teams must decide on club options; teams must decide whether to make Qualifying Offers
November 11-14 - General Manager’s Meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona
November 14 - Deadline for players to accept a Qualifying Offer
November 19-21 - Owners Meetings in Arlington, Texas
December 2 - Non-tender deadline
December 9-12 - Winter Meetings in San Diego
January 10 - Teams and players must exchange arbitration figures
February 3-21 - Arbitration hearings
February 11 - Royals pPitchers and catchers report
February 16 - Royals full squad reports
February 22 - Royals spring training opener vs. Los Angeles Angels
March 26 - Royals regular season opener at Chicago White Sox
April 2 - Royals home opener vs. Seattle Mariners