The 2019 offseason for the Kansas City Royals has been utilized as another stepping stone in the current rebuilding process. Similar to last season, a chunk of one-year deals and minor league invitations has slowly developed into the 40-man roster the Royals now possess. There wasn’t any toe-dipping into the large pool of superstar free agents, nor was there even an ounce of thought put in to adding those kind of elite-caliber players. Kansas City decided to mimic exactly what small-market, bottom of the league type clubs should be emulating.
But even as the free agent market has frozen over-hurting players such as former-Royals Mike Moustakas financially-who was forced to settle on another one-year deal-general manager Dayton Moore has attempted to capitalize on the stale market. In doing so, Moore looks to construct a competitive team in what looks to be a wildly underachieving American League Central. Here is a personal take that some may agree or disagree with on the current list of players Kansas City has added to the roster for 2019, going in chronological order.
November 13 - Royals sign Michael Ynoa to a minor league deal (C+)
Ynoa got a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training, Ynoa has low expectations to make it to Kansas City this season. Having last pitched at the big league level in 2017 for the Chicago White Sox, the 6’7 right-hander posted 5.90 ERA in 29 innings that season. Once a top prospect in the Oakland Athletics organization, Ynoa’s career has been derailed due to injuries, starting with Tommy John surgery just three games into his professional career. Perhaps what intrigued Moore was the .215 career opponents batting average he displayed along with a solid season in the Dominican Winter League in 2018. All in all, there’s no harm or foul in this long shot reclamation project.
November 26 - Royals claim Conner Greene off waivers (B)
The right-hander was the 27th best prospect in the St. Louis Cardinals system a season ago, but was designated for assignment, where the Royals scooped him up off waivers, leading to the release of Burch Smith. As for Greene, the 23-year-old right hander throwing in the mid to upper-90’s found himself a spot on the 40-man roster in 2019. Although a former top-100 prospect in 2015, he has since struggled with command for the better part of his career. However, still relatively young with a live arm, the Royals hope to mold a back-end bullpen guy that could make an appearance this year.
December 5 - Royals sign Chris Owings to a one-year deal (D+)
Owings was inked to a one-year, 3-million deal to become the super-utility man for Kansas City. Slashing .206/.272/.302 in 2018 with the Diamondbacks, many fans questioned adding a sub-par hitter with cheaper options in the Omaha such as Ramon Torres and on the free agent market. Nonetheless, the 27-year old will be in the lineup frequently according to Ned Yost, with an ability to play virtually every outfield and infield position. However, even if he is to exceed his career averages, flipping him for prospects at the trade deadline will get slim to none in return when thinking realistically.
December 10 - Royals sign Billy Hamilton to a one-year deal (C+)
Another recipient to the one-year contract, Hamilton signed a $5.25 million deal with Kansas City in hopes of returning to a team that can terrorize teams on the basepaths. Known as one of the fastest players in the history of the game, Hamilton will certainly torch the bases with his legs, but may struggle mightily at the dish. The switch-hitting fielder only surmounted a .235/.299/.327 line with 34 steals in 153 games on Cincinnati a year ago. But as poor as he is offensively, he makes up for it in the outfield. A five-time finalist for the Gold-Glove award in centerfield, the Royals outfield will not have any issues covering ground with Hamilton and Gordon patrolling two-thirds of it..
December 12 - Royals select Sam McWilliams in the Rule 5 draft (B)
Selected with the Royals first pick in the Rule 5 draft, McWilliams was plucked out of the Tampa Bay Rays organization. Standing at 6’7 and throwing from a three-fourths arm slot, McWilliams sits around 94-96 mph on his fastball with a slider. He can miss bats with 94 strikeouts in 100 ⅓ innings at the Double-A level, and there’s a high chance he starts in the bullpen with Kansas City to start the year. After striking gold with Brad Keller in the Rule 5 draft last season, Dayton Moore hopes to see similar productivity from McWilliams.
December 12 - Royals acquire Chris Ellis from the Rangers (selected from the Cardinals) (B-)
The second player obtained from the Rule-5 draft, the 26-year-old Ellis threw 132 ⅔ innings while posting a 3.92 ERA with 124 strikeouts and just 37 walks in the Cardinals oragnization. At an older age than most minor league prospects, the upside isn’t quite as high as McWilliams, but without question an intriguing arm to add to a bullpen that ranked 29th in the Major Leagues in 2018. The Royals will get an extended look at both Rule 5 pitchers this spring hoping at least one of them can stick.
December 18 - Royals sign Terrance Gore to a one-year deal (C+)
There is one thing on the job description for Terrance Gore at the Major League level, and that is to steal bases. A lifetime .063 hitter with his lone career hit off Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer, Gore was signed to a one-year deal with a Major League deal with a salary of 650,000 if he makes the team, adding yet another player to their speed core. Joining the crowded outfield, a spot in the starting lineup certainly isn’t in the cards for Gore, but the weapon as a late inning pinch runner is another reason to be excited about the base stealing abilities Kansas City is blessed with.
January 4 - Royals sign Kyle Zimmer to a one-year deal (A)
Injury after injury, the idea of Kyle Zimmer throwing off a mound in Kauffman Stadium in 2019 would be scoffed at about a year ago this time. Now, following his addition to the 40-man roster this offseason and a Major League deal that could pay him $550,000, Zimmer has revamped his career and is presented with the best chance to make the Opening Day roster for the first time in his career. In a year that will undoubtedly showcase a revolving door out of the pen in Kansas City, there isn’t a better time for Zimmer to make his debut this season. If he can stay healthy all of spring training, the long wait for him and Royals could finally come to an end. To make room on the roster, the Royals designated Cheslor Cuthbert for assignment, but were ultimately able to keep him in the organization.
February 7 - Royals sign Brad Boxberger to a one-year deal (A)
Spending last season with Arizona, Boxberger joined the Royals on a one-year, 2.2 million. The 30-year-old closer was drafted by Kansas City in 2006, but didn’t sign with the team. In 2015, he led the American league with 41 saves with Tampa Bay, earning him a spot in the All-Star game where he was managed by Ned Yost. The most likely of the relief pitchers to challenge Wily Peralta for save opportunities, Boxberger is an excellent candidate for a bounce back year with his 12.0 strikeout-per-nine number he put up in 2018.
February 9 - Royals sign Homer Bailey to a minor league deal (D)
Sent over to the Dodgers in a package deal that moved Yasiel Puig to Cincinnati, Bailey was signed to a minor league deal and received an invite to spring training with the intention of his only shot making the team as a starter. Posting a 1-14 record with a 6.09 ERA and 1.636 WHIP in 2018, the assumption that Bailey can turn a 180 in his performances to earn the fifth spot in the rotation seems rather doubtful. Even if he has a stellar spring, nabbing the spot from Jorge Lopez or Heath Fillmyer would not be in the best interest of the Royals moving forward.
February 13 - Royals sign Jake Diekman to a one-year deal (A)
A lanky-lefty that is probably remembered best as a member of the Texas Rangers for Royals fans, Diekman is another high strikeout reliever that Dayton Moore has added to the staff at a cost of $2.25 million on a one-year deal. Putting up a 3.69 ERA in 47 games with a 2.09 strikeout to walk ratio with Texas before being dealt to Arizona where he struggled mightily, the 30-year-old is an interesting backend reliever to at into the mix. Despite throwing from a unique angle from the left-side, Diekman poses as a more difficult matchup for righties, posting a .191/.303/.321 line against right-handed hitters.
February 15 - Royals sign Drew Storen to a minor eague deal (B+)
Having not pitched in the majors since 2017, Storen was a victim of Tommy John that cost him the entire 2018 season. Before the injury, he logged a 3.02 ERA with 95 saves and only 0.6 home runs per nine in his first six years with the Nationals. Hoping to rediscover his talents from Washington, Storen is a no-risk, high reward flier the Royals could be fortunate to have on the roster come July 31st.
How would you grade the Royals’ offseason overall?
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