The off-season is here, with several players now eligible for free agency. General managers are currently meeting in Las Vegas, laying the groundwork for deals that will take place this winter. Trade rumors are simmering on the hot stove (watch out for verified, yet bogus tweets!) So we gathered our writing staff to discuss the off-season for the Royals.
What do you think of the Matt Quatraro hire?
Cullen Jekel: Love the move. Very glad the team eschewed hiring a known name, like Bruce Bochy, Joe Girardi, or Joe Maddon, while also bypassing ties to the past, like Dusty Wathan, instead landing a manager who’s familiar with the ins and outs of making a “small marker” successful.
Max Rieper: He certainly checks every box for what they were looking for. It is hard to find too many organizations more “data-driven” than the Rays, and Quatraro seems to have a terrific reputation around baseball. He said all the right things about collaborating and communicating while also showing some good mastery with the media in being self-deprecating and funny. It’s great he has a shared vision with J.J. Picollo with ideas on having processes in place to facilitate winning. It will ultimately come down to wins and losses, but it certainly seems like the Royals are on the right track.
Jeremy Greco: It’s hard to judge a managerial hire because there are so many unknowns. Even with Matheny and Yost, who had each managed before, we saw them manage the Royals in different ways from what we had expected from them. That said, Quatraro seems like an excellent choice and so far he’s saying and doing all the right things. It also feels like the first time the team has really injected some new ideas into coaching and management in a while, outside their hitting overhaul.
Greg Walker: I like it well enough. I’m of the opinion that the idea of an “analytical manager” is a bit overrated. The clubhouse aspect is what I think really matters most. I’ve never met the guy so I can’t properly speak on what he’s like as a person, but everything I’ve read and heard indicates that he’s a well-liked and respected guy.
What do you expect from the Royals this off-season?
Jeremy Greco: It’s always a safer bet to expect the Royals to do very little. A starting pitcher or two. A handful of reliever reclamation projects. I’d be very surprised if they added any hitters, right now.
Greg Walker: Sign Aaron Judge, Carlos Rodón, and Trea Turner and start planning the parade!
In all seriousness I anticipate a pretty quiet offseason. The only time in the last decade the Royals have signed a free agent from outside the organization to a deal for more than two years was Ian Kennedy. At the time they were firmly in a competitive window. That is not the case this offseason. That said, the team is under new management now so it’s hard to know exactly what to expect. I’m choosing to temper my expectations until I see otherwise.
Max Rieper: We really don’t know! Picollo is his own man now, and we don’t know what that entails. He has certainly downplayed the possibility of being too active in free agency, but they have also talked a lot about roster churn, so it wouldn’t surprise me to still see them overhaul the roster with some trades. The Rays have 19 arbitration-eligible players and will almost certainly not keep all of them, and Quatraro has familiarity with them. It would not surprise me to see the Royals pursue some of them.
Cullen Jekel: Little to nothing, really. The team isn’t close enough to contention to justify spending meaningful money in free agency, and I’d be shocked if they made an altering trade. The team started its youth movement in the second half last year, and I expect them to keep that going for at least 2023’s first half.
Should the Royals be looking to sign any young players to long-term deals? Who?
Jeremy Greco: I think they’d be foolish not to be looking at signing Witt, Pasquantino, and Singer to long-term deals. But even if they’re investigating it, there’s plenty of reasons on both sides why they may not actually do any of those deals yet.
Cullen Jekel: Oh, yes—Witt and Singer specifically but also Pasquantino and Melendez. Locking up that core four would be amazing for the team, and keep the fanbase excited for the future.
Greg Walker: I’d look to extend Singer and Witt. Singer for obvious reasons, Witt because I still believe in the talent and if he sorts out his approach over the offseason and breaks out next year, he’ll quickly price himself out of the Royals. I’m split on Pasquantino. He did nothing but hit this season and I fully expect that to continue. He’s also under team control through his age-30 season. Seems odd to extend a player that’s already 25 into their 30s. That said, I bet the Yankees wish they had given Aaron Judge an extension when he was 25.
Max Rieper: I think it makes some sense for ownership to show an investment in players before asking taxpayers to pay for either a new stadium or renovations to the K. As far as making baseball sense, signing Bobby Witt Jr. or Brady Singer would be wise, but I’d probably hold off on the others.
Predict a transaction (or a few transactions) the Royals make this off-season.
Greg Walker: Zack Greinke will return on a one-year deal. I could see them going after another starting pitcher (I’d really like to add Andrew Heaney), at least one reliever, and maybe an outfielder. Maybe they trade for pitching but I’m not sure who exactly they’d go after and who they’re willing to part with.
Max Rieper: I don’t expect a splash in free agency, but they could be pretty active in trades. The parts really don’t fit on this roster that well, and there are redundancies at some positions. I would bet Michael A. Taylor is traded, they cut ties with Hunter Dozier, and I wouldn’t be surprised if one of either Nick Pratto or MJ Melendez is traded. If they do bring in any free agents, it will be players under 30 - say Zach Eflin of the Phillies - or players that will be non-tendered in a few weeks. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few former Rays brought in.
Jeremy Greco: They’re going to sign Tyler Anderson.
Cullen Jekel: Signing Ryan O’Hearn to a lifetime contract.
What’s a big move you predict from another team this off-season?
Greg Walker: How about a huge offseason for San Francisco: sign Aaron Judge, bring back Carlos Rodón, and trade for Shohei Ohtani. I’m confident that at least one of those moves will happen.
Max Rieper: Well I have my free agent predictions here, which will almost certainly be wrong. As far as trades, how about Danny Jansen to the Cardinals for Lars Nootbar? Rafael Devers to the Mets for Brett Baty? Pablo Lopez to the Yankees for Oswaldo Peraza? Bryan Reynolds to the Guardians for prospects?
Jeremy Greco: The Yankees will finally open the bag for Aaron Judge.
Cullen Jekel: The Cardinals are going to land their catcher of the future, whether that’s Willson Contreras in free agency or Alejandro Kirk or Sean Murphy by trade remains to be seen. I’ll bet on Kirk since the Blue Jays have a surplus of catchers.