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Royals’ Lack of Free Agent Spending Is a Double-Edged Sword

It's not great that the Royals haven't been spenders, but it also says a lot about their organizational depth and current standing.

While just about every other MLB team has either made at least somewhat of a splash or is being linked to doing so in the near future, the Kansas City Royals have remained quiet this offseason. Silent, even.

That's okay. It also isn't, though.

Simply put: Kansas City has plenty of help on the way. It doesn't make a ton of sense to spend money on someone like Javy Baez (who the Detroit Tigers have been tied to) when the Royals' infield is already full. Bobby Witt Jr. is on the way, too. Going after a premier first baseman on the trade market wouldn't be a wise move given that Nick Pratto should debut in 2022. The same goes for catcher depth, as MJ Melendez is waiting in the Minor Leagues. As far as the infield goes, the Royals' proverbial silence is more than warranted.

In the outfield, things get a bit murky. Andrew Benintendi is locked into his left field spot for at least the 2022 campaign. It remains to be seen whether he'll end up signing a contract extension with the club but for now, he's an everyday starter for the Royals. Center fielder Michael A. Taylor recently signed a two-year extension on his own deal, but that doesn't exactly make him a sure-fire daily option. In right field, the Royals have a ton of cooks that can potentially be in the kitchen. That is simultaneously a good thing and a bad thing, as the possibilities are wide-reaching but no one option stands out. Again, there is a bit of a logjam that may be preventing the Royals from spending big.

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The general consensus surrounding the team's starting rotation and bullpen is that a veteran starter and a relief arm or two would be beneficial. General manager J.J. Picollo is on the record reiterating that latter point. Yet, as December approaches, no major moves have been made. The market for quality starting pitching has likely priced the Royals out of contention for one of those arms, and inflation has impacted the market for relievers as well. Nevertheless, teams that are serious about contending will fork over cash for talent that can help them win.

That's the double-edged sword the Royals are dealing with early in the offseason. On one end, the bulk of the talent that can help the franchise win is either currently on the roster (Salvador Perez, Whit Merrifield, Nicky Lopez) or in the minors (the aforementioned prospect trio, along with others). The jury is still out on the young starting pitchers, but there is certainly a good deal of talent there. The foundation for the team's bullpen has been laid. It makes sense to not make too many major changes or additions from outside the organization.

On the other end, what if none of the other outfield options pan out? What if the young starters struggle due to not having a veteran leading them? What if the bullpen never reaches its potential, either? All of those are legitimate realities, and the Royals haven't done anything to address those potential issues yet. That doesn't mean they won't but a few weeks into free agency, the club appears to be banking on its internal products while waiting out the market and striking at the right time. If that timing proves to be right, the Royals will be just fine. If it doesn't work out — or doesn't come to fruition at all — Kansas City is taking a series of serious risks.  

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