It is cold and dark outside, which means baseball season is over. The Royals have been done for some time, but with the crowning of a new champion this week, we can put a wrap on one of the strangest seasons in baseball history.
There is still a great deal of uncertainty over how things will play out going into next season, but we’ll try to wade through it all the best we can.
What are the Royals going to do this off-season?
After four consecutive losing seasons, the Royals seem to be ready to start looking towards the present rather than the future. They have a tremendous amount of financial flexibility if they decide to add talent to the roster. Here is a list of potential free agents. The new ownership team led by John Sherman has been pretty tight-lipped about their plans, and the pandemic may have thrown a wrench into any plans they might have had. But there does sound like a bit more urgency to start winning in Kansas City.
What are the biggest areas of need?
Dayton Moore has said the Royals “definitely need need more on-base guys”, adding they “need more quality at-bats from probably two other spots in the lineup”. This suggests they will look to add at least one, possibly two hitters who show an ability to get on base. Gordon retiring and Hunter Dozier moving to first base will open up a few spots in the outfield, although Edward Olivares and Franchy Cordero will be in the mix with Whit Merrifield. The team may look for a short-term starting pitcher to be a stop gap until pitching prospects like Jackson Kowar, Daniel Lynch, and Asa Lasy are ready. They may also look for some more bullpen depth and a utility infielder.
Do the Royals have any free agents?
The Royals have four free agents - left fielder Alex Gordon, who is retiring, starting pitcher Matt Harvey, and relievers Greg Holland and Ian Kennedy. Manager Mike Matheny would like to see Holland return, and Dayton Moore praised him for his tutelage of younger relievers in the bullpen. The Qualifying Offer amount is expected to be $18.9 million, a number the Royals won’t be offering to anyone.
Who is eligible for arbitration?
The Royals have eleven players eligible for arbitration - designated Jorge Soler, third baseman Maikel Franco, and pitchers Mike Montgomery and Jesse Hahn are eligible for the last time, while first baseman Hunter Dozier, shortstop Adalberto Mondesi, outfielder Franchy Cordero, and pitchers Jakob Junis, Kevin McCarthy, and Glenn Sparkman are all eligible for the first time. Montgomery, McCarthy, and Sparkman are the only candidates to be non-tendered, and you can get an idea of what each player could make in arbitration here.
Who needs to be added to the 40-man roster?
Outfielder Khalil Lee and pitcher Yefri del Rosario are the most likely to be added to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 draft. Other players that could be added include pitchers Evan Steele and Daniel Tillo, and outfielders Seuly Matias and Brewer Hicklen. The club currently has 39 players on the 40-man roster. Four players that will become free agents will free up some spots, although Kyle Zimmer, Glenn Sparkman, and Foster Griffin may take some spots as they are can no longer be on the 60-day Injured List.
How does the pandemic change things?
The General Manager’s meetings, typically held in November as a chance for executive to lay down the framework of trades, has already been cancelled. The Winter Meetings are still tentatively scheduled for early December, but those plans could be changed at any time.
You can also expect teams to be much more financially conservative this year. Commissioner Rob Manfred claims teams suffered as much as $3 billion in net operating losses, and while you may take issue with his numbers, teams almost certainly lost money by not having fans at games. Clubs had been operating with newfound fiscal restraint even before the pandemic, and you can bet they will tighten up even further this winter.
What are some dates to know?
Here is a look at the offseason calendar:
October 28 - Eligible players become free agents, but can only negotiate with their current club
November 1 - Free agents can negotiate with all clubs; teams must decide on club options; teams must decide whether to make Qualifying Offers
November 6 - Players must decide whether or not to accept Qualifying Offers
November 20 - Deadline to add Rule 5-eligible players to the 40-man roster
December 2 - Deadline to tender arbitration-eligible players a contract
December 6-10 - Winter Meetings in Dallas
December 10 - Rule 5 draft
January 15, 2021 - Deadline to exchange arbitration figures
February, 2021 (TBA) - Royals pitchers and catchers report to spring training
February 21, 2021 - Royals spring training opener vs. Texas Rangers
April 1, 2021 - Season opener vs. Texas Rangers