The Kansas City Royals are still basking in the afterglow of their magical run to the World Series and enjoying all the benefits that come with it. The extra prestige of proving themselves as a contender, the buy-in from ownership that the team is heading in the right direction and, of course, that big influx of cash that comes with an extended postseason run. All of these things have helped the Royals take the next big ste-
Nope, sorry. My bad. Actually none of that is happening. The Royals have thus far not done a thing to capitalize on their new status as legit contenders or to flex that extra financial clout they picked up.
The offseason is still relatively young, but the only moves the Royals have made have been decidedly uninspired. They let Billy Butler walk away, a defensible decision based on his down 2014, but then went out and replaced him with Kendrys Morales, who had an even more down season in 2014 and one of the few players in baseball that might actually lose to Butler in a foot race. Kansas City also functionally replaced Nori Aoki with Alex Rios. Aoki was no star, but he was one of the higher OBP players on the Royals, incredibly difficult to strike out and a quality baserunner. Rios, however, is a much lower OBP player who strikes out twice as much as Aoki and isn’t nearly the defender or baserunner that he used to be.
Add to that the likely departure of James Shields, who has not yet been replaced in the rotation, and the Royals have had one of the most disappointing offseasons in the league. Not only are they not using their World Series credentials to convince players to come to Kansas City, which has been a tough sell in the past, but they instead have focused on signing buy-low rebound candidates. That’s fine and all for small market team trying to make the most of their limited resources, but if ever there was a time for the Royals to step up their game, it is now.
In their defense, they have at least been linked to bigger names in free agency. They were at least involved in rumors with Ervin Santana and there are reports that they made an offer to Melky Cabrera as well. These aren’t earth-moving rumors, but at least they show the Royals aspiring for something more.
That consolation only goes so far though as Cabrera and Santana share another link in that they are both former Royals. For Dayton Moore to pursue them isn’t him thinking outside of the box and trying to do something more daring than he would’ve been able to do before the Royals won the pennant. It is the same old Dayton Moore who very much stays in the box and happily sticks to pursuing players he is already comfortable with. It is a wonder that he hasn’t brought back Jeff Francouer and Chris Getz yet.
There is a valid argument that a team that just went to the World Series shouldn’t tinker with their roster too much and the Royals certainly haven’t done that. Morales is a lesser version of Butler and Rios is a higher power, lower OBP replacement for Aoki. Shields hasn’t been replaced yet, but whoever does replace him is highly unlikely to be as good as he was. That’s three moves that are fairly clear downgrades for an 89-win roster. So unless the Dayton Moore has some tricks up his sleeves that he is yet to unveil, Kansas City is going to have to tap back into that magic that fueled them in postseason if they hope to reach the playoffs again, only this time coming out of a much more competitive AL Central.