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2023-24 Offseason Outlook Chat: Kansas City Royals
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Steve Adams
Good morning! Let's get today's Royals chat underway
The Royals haven't had a winning record since 2015 - what's the reason for optimism?
Steve Adams
It's a tough time for Royals fans, and there's admittedly not a great deal of promise on the present club. That said, I think the makings of a strong infield are there. Witt is a bona fide star, Maikel Garcia is a regular who can play three different positions. Pasquantino will hit enough to be an everyday first baseman.

In the rotation, Cole Ragans has provided some hope that he can be a legitimate piece moving forward, and I'm still not out on Brady Singer even with the roller coaster career to date.
There's also practically nothing on the payroll moving forward, which at least creates the possibility to make some positive augmentations this offseason. Granted, a lot of the Royals' recent moves don't necessarily inspire confidence that they'll make the right calls with that payroll space, but turning one cheap year of Aroldis Chapman into Ragans is a nice pull.
Do you think any of the players in crowded areas like corner outfield or utility infield have any trade value? Like Edward Olivares, Nick Loftin, Dairon Blanco, etc.?
Steve Adams
MLBTR's Anthony Franco and I were just talking last week about how Garcia would probably fetch something interesting if they wanted to field interest this offseason, given the dearth of quality infielders available in free agency. That said, he's also one of the few solid-looking potential regulars on the roster right now, so unless he brings back a starter they're confident can sit in the rotation for several years, I'd just hang onto him.

I don't see a ton of value in Blanco, Olivares, Nate Eaton, etc. Olivares is a decent enough hitter, but he doesn't have enough bat to DH and gives a lot of the offense back with shaky glovework.
George Brett's Sticky Bat
Could KC pull a Reds series of trades to restock the farm system?  Their best team recently was home grown.
Steve Adams
They haven't developed talent as well as the Reds have. Cincinnati was at least able to work into that position by virtue of having talent like Tyler Mahle, Luis Castillo, Jesse Winker, Eugenio Suarez, etc. to trade away. Not all of those guys were drafted/signed by the Reds, but they were acquired as prospects or young big leaguers.

The Royals don't have that core of solid everyday guys who are on the wrong side of their first few years of MLB service to dangle. They're not going to put Witt on the market, nor should they, and the players they DO have who are actually well into their initial service window (Singer, Lynch, Bubic) just haven't performed well enough or stayed healthy enough.
Any of those arms would still have trade value, but you'd be selling low on each
Amy Peterson
The 1B/DH/RF situation feels like a logjam that needs to be addressed. Melendez and/or Pratto feel like the odd men out. Be willing to move one of them for pitching? Expansive outfield, need more range out there. Melendez feels like someone a team believes they can make some changes with to unlock his full potential.
Steve Adams
Melendez can hit, I'm just not sure where he's going to play. The Royals have barely played him behind the dish this season, which sure makes it seem like they don't think he has a future back there. At the same time, he's graded out quite poorly in the outfield, and a move to first base isn't likely with Pasquantino locked in. Designated hitter works, but they give Perez plenty of time there.

I could see some kind of challenge trade where he's swapped out for a young starting pitcher who's had his own struggles, but it would have to be to a team that believes Melendez can at least be passable at catcher or in the OF, since you're not getting a controllable pitcher for a young DH. He's a hard guy to line up a trade for and feel like you're getting decent value right now.
Pratto's contact issues are so glaring and his defense so limited that I just don't feel like he has a ton of present-day value. That's not to say he can't be moved in some kind of smaller swap, but I don't see him bringing back a significant MLB contributor.
Chris Tenpenny
Besides Bobby, the Moves JJ Picollo has made is encouraging. Finding Cole Ragans, flipping Jose Cuas for Nelson Velazquez and seeing something in James McArthur. Gives off Rays vibes and if he can continue to find hidden talent, this roster could flip faster than people expect.
Steve Adams
I do think there's been some nice early finds during his tenure. I was underwhelmed by the offseason additions last year -- overpaying Jordan Lyles to get some stability in the rotation was a huge head-scratcher -- but the early returns on Ragans and Velazquez are indeed promising. Velazquez won't keep seeing one-third of his fly balls turn into home runs, and I'd like to see Ragans over a full year and not against a run of mostly weak lineups, but they're both nice pickups given the cost of acquisition -- especially Ragans.

McArthur's run has been pretty brief, but as I mentioned in the Outlook piece itself, 13 shutout innings without a walk and 14 punchouts is a pretty nice glimmer of hope for a guy you pulled from a DFA trade
Do you expect the Royals to make any big splashes in free agency?
Steve Adams
"Big splashes" relative to the rest of the league? No. Big splashes relative to what they've done in recent seasons? I can see that.

They need to add at least one starter, probably two, and they're a candidate to make some upside plays in that regard. We've been talking about free agent pitchers as we gear up for our annual Top 50 list, and the Royals are the type of team that make sense to "overpay" and jump in on a Jack Flaherty type at three or four years. 28 years old, stock is down after a shaky year and several injuries, but isn't too far removed from looking like a budding top-shelf starter.

I'd also like to see the Royals poke around in the upside bin of injury reclamations... Frankie Montas, Luis Severino, Tyler Mahle, etc.

Kansas City's payroll outlook is so clean, and the need for innings so dire, that even if Flaherty, Montas, Severino, etc. just provide them some boring innings, that's valuable enough to them to justify the spend.
But if any of them recaptures something close to prior form, then you have a potential impact arm who becomes a trade chip -- possibly one controlled for multiple years.
That type of pitching signing -- not another low-upside Greinke/Lyles/Yarbrough grouping -- is where they should be looking this winter.
Do you see the team moving Salvy or Bobby this offseason? I know there were rumors at the AS break this year that these moves were being discussed
Steve Adams
I can't fathom them trading Witt, although they'd get a preposterous haul of minor league talent if they made him available. Likelier they try to extend him though, I would imagine.

I touched on Perez in the outlook piece itself. He has full veto rights over any trade, the organization and fans love him, and I also just don't think he has much trade value. His defense has continually deteriorated, he hasn't had a great year at the plate, and he's owed $44MM over the next two seasons -- his age-34 and age-35 years.
I have never for a second thought Perez was a likely trade candidate, which is partly why we didn't go too overboard in covering the various reports trying to paint him as such. It didn't take Picollo too long to come out and just publicly quash those reports either. I think he'll play out his contract in KC, with a trade only coming together if Perez asks out.
Like, if it's July 2025 and Perez is coming up on the end of the guaranteed portion of his contract and the Royals aren't contending, sure I can see him approaching the front office and saying he'd like to go to a contender. Short of that, I don't think it's happening.

I'm sure there will still be some reports about him in the offseason, but I tend to take those with a grain of salt
How can ANYONE look at the Royal's and not call the upper management garbage? The scouting has been terrible. The holding onto players 2 years past the time they should have cashed in is borderline criminal. Having loyalty is ok, unless its stupid. I know this comes off harsh, but the Royals are an embarrassment. Garbage farm system, even though they pick high all of the time because they lose ALL of the time. I'm not sure how firing Moore, yet retaining his lap dog fixed anything. I would fire the ENTIRE staff, and start over. KC won't be relevant for the next half decade or better. They'll surely waste Witt Jr's best years as well, à la Trout in Anaheim. What's worse is, they want to build a NEW stadium... They can lose 100 games at the K just as easy. Its still a great park, and until Sherman show's he's going to put the money into the team to compete at higher than a grade school level, the city of Kansas City should tell him to kick rocks.
Steve Adams
I'm not going to call anyone garbage, haha, but I understand the sentiment and the frustration. It's largely with merit. I wrote about this for our Front Office subscribers a couple weeks back, but the track record of teams firing a GM/president of baseball ops and then replacing him internally is pretty abysmal. To your overarching point, simply promoting someone's top lieutenant often doesn't seem to be a large enough change and doesn't facilitate larger-scale changes of processes, personnel, etc. that are often needed to really turn an organization around
That said, Picollo has the job now, and I think everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt early on. Finding McArthur, getting Ragans for a Chapman rental and flipping relatively marginal reliever to get Velazquez have all paid off quite nicely early on, as mentioned previously.
I think the Royals erred significantly in not trading Barlow over the winter -- I also wrote about that for Front Office readers at the end of the offseason, cheap plug, haha -- and probably received less for him this past summer than they would've back in January or December.
It obviously hasn't been a spotless tenure so far, even one year in, but there are some encouraging small-sample developments
kurt the hurt
Is Witt Jr given an extension ?
When do Royals try to lock-up Witt? He's going to get expensive fast
what kind of dollars would it take to sign Bobby Witt Jr. long-term?
Steve Adams
Lots of Witt questions, haha, so I'll address this next!
In short, Witt is going to take the largest contract in franchise history by an enormous margin. Perez's four-year, $82MM contract is the largest in franchise history at the moment, and Witt could command more than 3x that amount. He'll finish the season at two years of service time, so we're past the early-career bargain potential. Hell, Julio Rodriguez and Corbin Carroll have shown that even a few months can push a player out of that bargain extension conversation.

Fernando Tatis Jr. set the standard for players with 2+ years of service when he signed for 14 years and $340MM. That might prove to be an outlier, and Witt also just hasn't been AS good at the plate as Tatis was.

Austin Riley signed for 10 years and $212MM in this service bracket also.

In all likelihood -- and this is a wide set of goalposts, I realize -- you're looking at somewhere between those two endpoints.
Witt is going to crush arbitration records if he keeps putting up these kinds of counting stats, and he'd reach free agency in advance of his age-28 season, which would put him in line for an enormous contract; if we're seeing Seager, Turner etc. get $300MM now, by the time Witt is a free agent four years from now, that could be $400MM+. An extension won't cost THAT much right now, but I think it'd probably have to land comfortably ahead of Riley, who's a very good player in his own right -- but shortstop can naturally command more than their third base counterparts given the position's placement on the defensive spectrum.
You see the royals going after a paxton severino or giolito? You have to develop your rotation internally but surely they can help stabilize it some better than jordan lyles??
Steve Adams
You can add Paxton to the Severino, Flaherty, Montas, Mahle group I listed earlier I suppose, but he's 34 with an extensive injury history so I don't like the fit as much for either party. Paxton probably wants a contender based on his age, and the Royals probably feel better about spending on someone younger and without such a laundry list of health troubles.
Will Nelson Velazquez have a job next year?
Steve Adams
Based on what he's done since being acquired, he's 100% in the lineup every day, barring an injury. We're not even talking 200 plate appearances, and I don't think there's any chance he can sustain this type of power output -- I don't think anyone can -- but he's earned a full-time job. Especially on a team with so few set-in-stone regulars in the outfield/designated hitter mix.
Eastern MO KC fan
There’s a bit of roster confusion at certain positions yet glaring holes at others namely pitching & right field. Do you think they’ll trade either Isbel or Waters & move whoever wasn’t dealt to CF & go out and get a legit RF’er thus finally having a set outfield with Melendez in LF, Waters/Isbel in CF & whoever they acquire in RF? Because with Vinny hopefully coming back this offense might be interesting.
Steve Adams
Isbel has had over 600 MLB plate appearances and will turn 27 next March. I don't think he'll carry huge trade value... I think this is just kind of who he is. He's a strong defensive outfielder who can handle all three spots but won't hit much. That's a fine fourth outfielder. I don't personally think Waters will make enough contact to be a regular. He's fanned in a third of his MLB plate appearances, and strikeouts have been an issue for him for some time even in the upper minors.

The problem in getting a "legit" right fielder is that the free-agent market is thin, and the Royals aren't really in a position to trade young talent for established big leaguers.
As our corner OF preview shows, there's just not a ton -- and many of the best options are typically older veterans who probably prefer a contending club:
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