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Why The Royals Can’t Sit Back After 2014: KC State Of The Union For 2015

Kansas City finally lived up to their expectations, and far exceeded beyond that, being just one swing away from calling themselves World Championships.  With the success the team had, it also creates payraises, roster turnover, and tough decisions from the brass on who to replace the outgoing cast.  Dayton Moore must be aggressive with some of the changes, and realize this core group of players have about a 2 - 3 year window to win before everyone becomes too expensive.  The time to strike is still now!

Kansas City finally lived up to their expectations, and far exceeded beyond that, being just one swing away from calling themselves World Championships. With the success the team had, it also creates pay raises, roster turnover, and tough decisions from the brass on who to replace the outgoing cast. Dayton Moore must be aggressive with some of the changes, and realize this core group of players have about a 2 – 3 year window to win before everyone becomes too expensive. The time to strike is still now!

Why The Royals Can’t Sit Back After 2014 AL Pennant

Jordan Gluck (Featured Writer): 

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First congrats to the San Fransisco Giants organization for winning a 3rd championship in 5 years!

Now for the losers who captured Americas heart, and why the Royals can’t sit back and do nothing all offseason.

Frequently after a team wins a championship (for almost any sport) and has that breakthrough season that team tends to try and retain its team from last year while making no additions.

Save for LeBrons Miami heat we haven’t had a team repeat in any sport since the 2004 Patriots and not in baseball since the 2000 Yankees.

Lets not forget that while the Royals did eventually get to game 7 of the World Series they barely got the wild card clinching the spot a couple games above the Mariners and winning that game late.

Here are recent examples of Championship teams who really made very few additions and flopped or performed less than expected the next year.

The 2013 Red Sox who basically retained the same team and suffered from injuries and substandard performance from players like Clay Buchholz and David Ortiz.

The biggest example might be the 2010 and 2012 San Francisco Giants who just retained their teams while making no additions and ended up making frantic moves such as trading for Carlos Beltran at the deadline to fill the holes.

They missed the 2011 and 2013 postseasons. When they made changes such as trading for Hunter Pence and signing Mike Morse they ended up winning it all again.

 James Shields loss will be felt drastically by the franchise, with a lugging 455.2 IP worth of work, and stabilizing a great young rotation. by giving the Relief Core a rest for their starts, by not being implemented as much to pitch for his starts.  The team will need big internal improvements from Ventura and Duffy, while Vargas and Guthrie will need to keep throwing like they did in 2014.  The club should look to sign a reclamation project for a 1 year deal, similar to what the Pirates have done the last few years with Liriano and Volquez,

James Shields loss will be felt drastically by the franchise, with a lugging 455.2 IP worth of work, and stabilizing a great young rotation. by giving the Relief Core a rest for their starts, by not being implemented as much to pitch for his starts. The team will need big internal improvements from Ventura and Duffy, while Vargas and Guthrie will need to keep throwing like they did in 2014. The club should look to sign a reclamation project for a 1 year deal, similar to what the Pirates have done the last few years with Liriano and Volquez,

Here are what the Royals are facing:

Losing Ace James Shields

Parting with the former number 1 overall pick and talented but injured set-up man Luke Hochevar

Potentially departing right field platoon of Nori Aoki and Josh Willingham

Reliever Jason Frasor is now a Free Agent

Top prospect Kyle Zimmer is facing worrisome shoulder issues

Having 12 players eligible for arbitration raises including Greg Holland and Eric Hosmer

They’re payroll this year was about 95 Million and I am expecting they’re budget to be about 108 Million

They have 44 Million committed right now and will accept a club option of 7M on Wade Davis which will drive payroll to 51M. They rejected 12.5M option on Billy Butler which doesn’t mean they don’t want him back, just at a lesser rate. That cost a little over a million on Butlers buyout.

The longest tenured KC player may look to ink a multi-year deal, and may price the Royals out of the loop with 2 or 3 years @ $10 – 1 MIL per AAV.

The potential increase in arbitration ranges from about 25 – 30 Million so I will use 28 million to work with in this scenario.  This will leave their current payroll at 80 Million.

Current Holes:

DH: Hole left by Billy Butlers option being declined.

RF: The spot left by Nori Aoki but can be filled by either Cain or Dyson but I like them being a platoon in Center with the Lions share of ABs going to cain.

5th SP: Right now that spot is filled by John Lamb.

LR: A big hole occupied by Francisley Bueno.

Bench depth: This is an easy spot to fill and usually cheap as well

Manager: Ned Yost SMH (he’s obviously staying though)

There are some options to help fix this club and get them ready for next season. I think that the most pressing issue for this club is the DH and the RF positions.

They also should be interested in signing a SP as a general rule of thumb is that you will use 7 starters at least a season and organizations such as the Texas Rangers and Colorado Rockies will tell you that if your SP depth stinks you will be drafting near the top.

Also one tidbit is that closer Greg Holland will make near 8M next year and his value as a top shutdown closer will never be higher…You also have to factor that Wade Davis will be paid like a Closer in going forward, and it would be impossible to allocate dollars to both of them going forward without breaking the bank

Here is what I would do:

Trade Greg Holland for some top prospects. Teams like the Colorado Rockies and Chicago White Sox need back end bullpen help and the Rockies in particular posses one of the better systems in the game and they have the 3rd overall pick in next years draft as well.

Due to Coors Field it is difficult for the Rockies to attract pitching to Denver so they need to develop or trade for most of their pitching (although Money does speak and the numbers have been overblown due to their pitchers just not being good.

If you look at the Rockies road ERA it is pitiful with a league worst 4.62 ERA on the ROAD.) and Holland could fit well in Denver. The Rockies have 3 bats that I believe are top 100 prospects that are blocked.

They are David Dahl, Ramiel Tapia, and Ryan McMahon. I think a Greg Holland for David Dahl Trevor Story and Dom Nunez trade would be fair for both sides. This will free up about 8M.

Figure out what you are going to do with 2014 first round pick Brandon Finnegan. He was lights out in the bullpen this postseason but he was a starter in college at TCU and I think he fits that role better.

He can be a starting option for them this season but its important not to rush prospects but rather let them play themselves into a position to get called up.  At worst, you could bring him up in the middle of the year to place in the Bullpen or Starting Staff.

Nelson Cruz is just the kind of game changing bat the club could use to supplement left hand hitting Gordon, Moustakas and Hosmer for the next few years.  At age 34, you could make him the primary DH, and see some OF duty as well.  The Royals may be able to sign him over other teams if they offer a 4th year.  It is easier to pay a hitter like Cruz, than it would have been to sign Shields, where the team was already stockpiled with  pitchers anyway.

Nelson Cruz is just the kind of game changing bat the club could use to supplement left hand hitting Gordon, Moustakas and Hosmer for the next few years. At age 34, you could make him the primary DH, and see some OF duty as well. The Royals may be able to sign him over other teams if they offer a 4th year. It is easier to pay a hitter like Cruz, than it would have been to sign Shields, where the team was already stockpiled with pitchers anyway.  Considering his past PED use, the amount it would take to ink the big RHB, suggests to be 3 – 4 years at around $55 MIL  – $ 72 MIL ($16 – 18 MIL AAV).  He will likely sign a deal with an AL club, where he can DH a lot.

Sign Nelson Cruz Cruz will not come cheap but being attached to draft pick compensation along with his age of 34 will shy away some potential suitors.

The Royals will get a draft pick for James Shields so that will offset losing one for signing Cruz. Cruz adds tremendous power and another veteran presence to the lineup. I expect a 3 YR/$48 – $55 MIL contract with a $18 – $20M Vesting Option (based on PA in 2017 and 2018) with a $ 3 MIL buyout in 2018.

Teams will still shy away from the guy because of his PED past, but he has proven he can rake at any point.  Remember, you are the Royals, you are looking for some thump in the middle of the lineup.  It will cost you, but your window of opportunity to win is the next 2 – 3 years.

Re-sign Billy Butler: He has been so instrumental to this organization and is currently the longest tenured Royal. His presence in the heart of the lineup has been crucial to this teams success this season and seasons past.

I will guess a 1 yr 8 – 9 M contract is fair as he is only 28 years old and if he has a good season he can seek a big contract after the 2015 season.

There is always a chance another team will offer him a multi-year deal, and so be it. If KC does try to bring him back for more than 1 campaign, they should significantly drop the (AAV) per year.  

You must run a team with business in mind and not solely on loyalty or emotion.

Sign a rebound SP candidate like Justin Masterson, Brett Anderson or Josh Johnson: This allows the Royals to give Finnegan more time to develop and push John Lamb back to the minors.

If any of these players play up to their potential they will be a huge steal. I’m guessing a 1 YR/$5 – $8M deal would be satisfactory.

Masterson may be able to pick a few more dollars off in Free Agency than the other 2 based on that he was healthy.

The Padres just declined a $4 MIL Team Option on Johnson (who is recovering from a TJ Surgery) – but KC may be able to lure him with a better offer than San Diego wants to make.

Brett Anderson suffered finger and back injuries, only pitching in 8 game starts this year for the Rox.  He had dealt with a rash of health issues, but he is just 26 Years Old, and many teams could use him a depth chucker like Kansas City

Sign a veteran reliever like Jesse Crain. Crain was shutdown in 2013 before getting injured and didn’t play at all this past year.

If he comes back to form he could be another nice 7th or the 8th inning guy. I expect a 1yr 1.5M contract with incentives.

Here is what the team would look like:

SS Alcides Escobar
LF Alex Gordon
1B Eric Hosmer
RF/DH combo:  Nelson Cruz/Free Agent or Butler for a lesser AAV.
C Salvador Perez
CF Lorenzo Cain
3B Mike Moustakas
2B Omar Infante

C Eric Kratz
IF Christian Colon
OF Moises Sierra

Potential Free Agent Utility INF

Starters

1SP Yordano Ventura
2SP Free Agent Signing ( 5 – 8 MIL salary in 2015)
3SP Jason Vargas
4SP Jeremy Guthrie
5SP Danny Duffy

Swingman – Brandon Finnegan

Relief Core (Without Holland, if he is there, everyone climbs down one peg. and a Free Agent Bullpen arm would not be necessary.

Closer: Wade Davis
Set up: Kelvin Herrera
7th:  Free Agent signing (maybe even re-upping with Luke Hochevar)
RP: Aaron Crow
RP: Tim Collins
RP: Louis Coleman
LR: John Lamb

Their payroll would now be 103.5M which is 4.5M under budget and should give them some room at the deadline to add salary if they need to.

I think this is a pretty good team and one that could be favored to win the AL Central this time around.

The addition of some veterans will allow young bats Jorge Bonifacio, Hunter Dozier and Cheslor Cuthbert to not be forced into action and be allowed to develop for a future role.

The minor league Starting Pitching prospects in this organization remain strong including Sean Manea, Kyle Zimmer, Brandon Finnegan and a personal underrated favorite in Christian Binford.

They will be allowed to develop and will likely see the minor League field as pitchers go down with injury or suffer from unsatisfactory performance.

This is what I would personally do but it’s of course up to Dayton Moore.

While Holland may be the premiere Closer in the AL right now, he is set to make a huge bounty of cash in hi 2015 - 2016 Arbitration years, while Wade Davis is locked in to single year Team Options of $7 MIL, $8 MIL and $10 MIL for the 3 years, and one could say that he actually had a better year.  With the market calling for a high demand for Closers, the Royals could net a vast return for Holland.  The current KC Closer is a Free Agent after 2016.

While Holland may be the premiere Closer in the AL right now, he is set to make a huge bounty of cash in hi 2015 – 2016 Arbitration years, while Wade Davis is locked in to single year Team Options of $7 MIL, $8 MIL and $10 MIL for the 3 years, and one could say that he actually had a better year. With the market calling for a high demand for Closers, the Royals could net a vast return for Holland. The current KC Closer is a Free Agent after 2016.

*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com and their partners***

A Big thanks goes out to our featured writer Jordan Gluck for preparing today’s feature post. 

Note from Editor:  Also congrats to Jordan Gluck for picking KC as the AL Pennant winner in the 2014 season, successfully running the MLB Reports prognosticators for picking at least World Series participant every year since 2011.

For all of the Rosters, Depth Charts, State of the Unions and Salaries Posts that we do, please visit our dedicated page link here.

Please e-mail me  at: mlbreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.   To subscribe to our website and have the Daily Reports sent directly to your inbox, click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

 

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About jgluck777

Aspiring President of Baseball Operations for a MLB Franchise/ Venture Capitalist

Posted on November 5, 2014, in MLB Payroll and Contracts, MLB Teams State Of the Unions and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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