The Kansas City Royals' offseason is expected to consist of a few external additions, but not everyone thinks Kansas City is a very appealing place for free agents to land.
In a recent article on Bleacher Report, Zachary D. Rymer published B/R's ranking of all 30 MLB clubs as free agent destinations. Three factors — resources, contention timelines and surroundings — played roles in the decision-making process, and the noted subjective nature of the article left some wiggle room for interpretation. Nonetheless, the Royals checked in at No. 26 on the list. Here was the rationale behind putting Kansas City in the fifth-lowest spot:
Projected 2023 Payroll: $76 Million
Even though it will turn 50 years old next year, Kauffman Stadium is aging just fine as a venue for the ol' ballgame. Missouri is also one of the more affordable states, so there would be a lot to like here if the Royals were a contender with cash to burn.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. Royals general manager J.J. Picollo has indicated that payroll will be similar in 2023 to what it was in 2022. If he's referring to the club's $94.8 million Opening Day payroll, there's not even room for $20 million in new salaries.
Royals Chairman and CEO John Sherman doesn't necessarily feel the same way about the article's perspective on Kauffman Stadium, as the team is actively making an attempt to progress in its search for a new full-time home. Elsewhere, however, valid points are made. The Kansas City area is a fine place to live, and prospective free agents who are fond of the Midwest would find themselves having an easy time fitting in with the team and city's respective cultures.
Financially, the Royals appear to be in a "win first, then spend" state. Kansas City has a large chunk of money tied up in a few currently-contracted players (Hunter Dozier, Salvador Perez and Michael A. Taylor), and the arbitration process will soon see figures creep up into the team's 2023 payroll as well. Big-time spending isn't a likely development for the Royals over the next month or two, and their moves at the non-tender deadline made that even more obvious. For a club that is eyeing help from a right-handed bat and potentially multiple pitchers, though, perhaps there's a bit of payroll flexibility. It wouldn't be enough for a top free agent, however.
As things currently stand, the Royals simply aren't ready to go after a marquee name. The odds are already stacked against them due to their small-market nature, as well as their recent track record in terms of success. This conversation could be a different one in a year or two but in the 2022-23 offseason, many organizations are more appealing than the Royals. Is 25 the magic number? That's impossible to predict, but a lower-third standing among all 30 teams makes a great deal of sense.