The return of Eric Hosmer to Kansas City this weekend - his first visit as an opposing player - brought back some good memories of the Royals’ glory years when they won back-to-back pennants including a championship in 2015. It has been seven years since that magical season, and everyone but World Series MVP Salvador Perez has moved on.
In fact, just four members of that 2015 roster are even on big league rosters anymore, as highlighted in a tweet by Josh Vernier of 610 Sports.
Only four members of the 2015 Royals are currently active on a big-league roster. (Hosmer, Perez, Moose, Cueto)— Josh Vernier (@JoshVernier610) August 4, 2022
Hosmer signed with San Diego in 2018, but was traded to Boston last week after an underwhelming tenure with the Padres. Mike Moustakas re-signed with the Royals in 2018, but they traded him to Milwaukee that summer and he then signed a long-term deal with the Reds where he is hitting just .202/.290/.332 in 70 games this year. And Johnny Cueto went to the Giants where he had an injury-filled tenure, but has rebounded to become a solid pitcher with the White Sox with a 2.91 ERA in 96 innings.
Greg Holland, Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar were on MLB rosters earlier this year, but Holland was let go in April by the Rangers, Cain was designated for assignment by the Brewers back in June, and Escobar was released by the Nationals last week. Danny Duffy is still technically on a roster, but he has been on the Injured List for the Dodgers the entire season. We could also technically count Adalberto Mondesi, who was not on the regular season roster, but made his debut in the World Series, but is now on the Injured List with the Royals.
A few players from that team are still trying to get back to the big leagues. Brandon Finnegan - who was traded to the Reds for Cueto that summer - is pitching in Triple-A for the White Sox. Lefty reliever Scott Alexander is trying to rehab from an injury with the Dodgers. Aaron Brooks pitched a few innings for the Cardinals this year and is currently in Triple-A. Michael Mariot pitches for the Tigers’ top affiliate. Speedster Terrance Gore is in the Mets organization - perhaps we’ll see him in the post-season.
But many other players have moved on to the next phase of their careers. Drew Butera is a bullpen coach for the Angels. Christian Colon is a minor league coach in the Royals organization. Chris Young runs the Rangers organization as their general manager. Jonny Gomes is participating in MLB’s Home Run Derby X competition.
Is it unusual for a championship team to age out so quickly? Commenter KCFan55 looked back at the last few pennant winners and found that the 2015 Royals were older than any of the teams that have won a pennant since then, with an average age of 29.2. Good teams tend to be older teams, and age comes for us all eventually. If you look back at the 1985 championship Royals, there were nine players still on active MLB rosters seven years later in 1992:
- George Brett (still on the Royals)
- Willie Wilson (Athletics)
- Lonnie Smith (Braves)
- Jaime Quirk (Athletics)
- Charlie Leibrandt (Braves)
- Bret Saberhagen (Mets)
- Mark Gubicza (still on the Royals)
- Danny Jackson (Cubs/Pirates)
- Bud Black (Giants)
- Steve Farr (Yankees)
But the 1985 Royals also featured a very young pitching staff - the average age was 25.8 compared to an average age of 30 for the 2015 Royals pitchers.
Anyway, it was fun to see Eric Hosmer back in Kansas City, but it was also a reminder that time flies, enjoy the good times while you can.