As the MLB offseason enters its full-swing stage and teams begin negotiating deals with free agents, it's time to think about how teams will set out to improve this winter. The Kansas City Royals are no different, and the staff here at Inside the Royals has put together a small simulation of sorts. Here are some ground rules:
- Everyone abides by the same $30 million spending limit.
- Moves can be made to add to or subtract from that limit.
- Mock general managers must sign players within a ballpark range of what their actual value projects to be this offseason.
- Contracts longer than one year can be backloaded, within reason, in an effort to lower year one salary.
- The best offseason will be voted on by readers via a Twitter poll.
Jerry Edwards: The Royals have three big needs this offseason: quality veteran starting pitching, outfield depth and a designated hitter. For $30M, the Royals could add a ton of value to their roster. First on the agenda is completing that Tyler Naquin for Seuly Matias trade with Cincinnati to give Kansas City a center field platoon with Michael A. Taylor.
Next is adding Andrew McCutchen as a DH and/or rotational outfielder who, despite his advanced age, has never put up an OPS+ below 100. Michael Pineda and Kwang-hyun Kim can be had for not much money.
Finally, top it all off with two veteran relievers in Joe Kelly and Darren O’Day, who can give opponents two completely different looks out of the bullpen.
- OF: Naquin ($2M)
- OF/DH: McCutchen ($18M over two years. $4M buyout in second year)
- SP: Pineda ($10M over two years)
- SP: Kim ($24M over three years)
- RP: O’Day (veteran minimum for 2022)
- RP: Kelly ($1M)
Tyler Dierking: First, I would look at an area of weakness that the Royals have. While starting pitching is probably the quick answer for most, the outfield could use some assistance. I’d negotiate a trade to bring Cedric Mullins to Kansas City. Even if you feel his defense in center field isn’t a good match for Kauffman Stadium, right field is open. In his last two years, he’s hit .287/.352/.497 with a 128 wRC+ and is the offensive pop the lineup needs. Yes, they’ll have to potentially trade away Kris Bubic, Jackson Kowar, or any other pitcher from the 2018 draft class, but it would be worth it — especially since Mullins has four more years before he’s a free agent.
One bullpen arm is very intriguing to me, and that’s Kenley Jansen. The former Dodger is now 34 years old but is still posting a low 3.00 ERA consistently. Then, I'm going to pivot to a pitcher I know can be an opener and provide solid innings while still being very productive in the bullpen too. Collin McHugh sat out the 2020 season and came back ready to dominate. His 1.55 ERA over 37 games and 7 starts is something to take seriously. I’m going to add one more pitcher to this wave and bring in Kendall Graveman. I know last year was his first time being very productive, but his 1.77 ERA and 0.982 WHIP are nothing to scoff at.
Seiya Suzuki is a player from Japan who is going to try and push his name into the MLB world this year if he can negotiate his terms with his NPB club. He’s got great patience at the plate and power that follows. His versatility fits the Royals' agenda. He can play third base, shortstop and right field. I'm splurging on him, too.
• OF: Mullins (trade)
• RP: Jansen ($25M over two years)
• SP/RP: McHugh ($5M)
• RP: Graveman ($24M over three years
• OF/UTIL: Suzuki: ($55M over five years)
Lucas Murphy: I would love to see Eddie Rosario put on a Royals uniform. He is a versatile player and is familiar with Kauffman Stadium. He was named the NLCS MVP. A familiar face is Danny Duffy. There is plenty of young flame-throwing talent in the minors, but a veteran like Corey Knebel to close games would be a good addition. Finally, I would trade for third baseman Matt Chapman of the Oakland Athletics. The requirement to get Chapman could be higher than most, but I'm willing to deal with the repercussions.
- OF: Rosario ($9M)
- SP/RP: Duffy ($4M)
- RP Knebel ($7.5M)
- 3B: Chapman ($7.5M)
Jordan Foote: The Royals have a few glaring needs this offseason, but several holes are likely to be filled internally. With one of the best farm systems in baseball, there aren't a ton of external additions that make sense for this team. On the other hand, acquiring a veteran starting pitcher would be a huge benefit. The same could be said about an outfielder, as well as a reliever or two. With $30M at my disposal, here's how I spent my money:
- SP: Chris Bassitt (trade, estimated arbitration salary set at $8.8M)
- OF: Avisail Garcia ($42.6M over three years)
- RP: Danny Duffy ($2.5M)
- RP: Ryan Tepera ($11M over two years, $4.5M salary in year one)
Mark Van Sickle: With a young and inconsistent pitching staff, the Royals need pitching depth. I’m going to roll the dice and hope that the young hitters (Bobby Witt Jr., Nick Pratto and possibly MJ Melendez) come through early and often. Plus, I think Hunter Dozier will be more 2021 second half Dozier than 2021 first half Dozier, which is playable. A healthy Adalberto Mondesi would be awesome, too. With all of that said, I’m going all-in on pitching for the 2022 season.
- SP: Zack Greinke ($10M) - It just makes sense.
- SP/RP: Danny Duffy ($3M) - Bring him back on the cheap and see if he can do anything out of the bullpen.
- SP/RP: Chris Archer ($5M) Turn him into a bullpen piece and let him roll. He can start if needed, which is a bonus.
- SP/RP: Julio Teheran ($3M) - Another starter who could thrive in a new relief role.
- RP: Trevor Rosenthal ($5M) - If Duffy and Greinke are returning, he might as well, too.
- RP: Joe Kelly ($4M) - Kelly will be coming off an injury, but could be a sneaky good move.
Christopher Tenpenny: The Royals are still looking for an ace and while the Scherzers and Rondons may be out of their price range, the next best thing is to trade for a proven “ace-type” pitcher. Enter Reds pitcher Luis Castillo, who has been rumored to be on the trade block. Castillo is projected to make $7.5M and while the asking price may be high, the Royals have the prospects to get a deal done as long as they are okay losing one or two of their young pitchers.
The Royals also need a left-handed outfielder/DH but Kyle Schwarber and Michael Conforto are probably out of their price range. With that in mind, the Royals should make a run at Eddie Rosario or Joc Pederson. Both will probably come a little overpriced due to name, but neither would be as pricey as the other two. I’m leaning towards a two-year deal for the latter.
The Royals should add veterans to the bullpen, and a $12M deal for Aaron Loup would give KC another lefty following the Richard Lovelady injury. Chris Martin is coming off a down year and may be cheap as well. These moves allow the Royals to advance towards contention without going all-in on prospects they haven’t seen at the MLB level.
- SP: Castillo ($7.5M)
- OF/DH: Pederson ($17M over two years)
- RP: Loup ($12M over three years)
- RP: Martin ($2M)