Evaluating the AL Central Windows: Kansas City

We recently wrapped up the SB Nation Offseason Simulation over at Royals Review and, frankly, it’s become one of my favorite little offseason activities. I had the White Sox this year and while I was looking at their roster and prospects, it made me curious to further evaluate the rest of the AL Central to see when other teams may try to “go for it” and how their next competitive window lines up with the Royals imminent window that should be opening in 2023.

I’ve already written about ChicagoMinnesotaCleveland, and Detroit. You can follow the links to their write ups. Today we are going to talk about the team that we all love to follow: your Kansas City Royals.

Here is a quick look at the core of the Royals roster heading into 2022, their age on Opening Day, and the year in which that player becomes a free agent:

  • Andrew Benintendi, 27, 2022
  • Mike Minor, 34, 2022
  • Carlos Santana, 36, 2022
  • Adalberto Mondesi, 26, 2023
  • Brad Keller, 26, 2023
  • Michael A. Taylor, 31, 2023
  • Whit Merrifield, 33, 2023
  • Scott Barlow, 29, 2024
  • Brady Singer, 25, 2025
  • Nicky Lopez, 27, 2025
  • Josh Staumont, 28, 2025
  • Hunter Dozier, 30, 2025
  • Kris Bubic, 24, 2026
  • Carlos Hernandez, 25, 2026
  • Jake Brentz, 27, 2026
  • Salvador Perez, 31, 2026
  • Kyle Isbel, 25, 2027
  • Dylan Coleman, 25, 2027
  • Daniel Lynch, 25, 2027
  • Jackson Kowar, 25, 2027

Here’s a list of their top prospects that are getting pretty close to the big leagues and could be contributors both in 2022 and the long-term:

  • Bobby Witt Jr.
  • MJ Melendez
  • Nick Pratto
  • Asa Lacy
  • Angel Zerpa
  • Jonathan Heasley
  • Ronald Bolanos
  • Drew Parrish
  • Jonathan Bowlan
  • Alec Marsh
  • Austin Cox
  • Vinnie Pasquantino
  • Clay Dungan
  • Brewer Hicklen
  • Daniel Tillo
  • Yefri Del Rosario

The reinforcements are coming. That much is clear for Kansas City. The Royals will add three top-100 prospects to their starting lineup in 2022 and will add another top-100 prospect to their starting rotation in the near future in Asa Lacy. The bullpen should fill out nicely by the time these guys sort out the 5 rotation spots and the lineup should be much deeper and much more potent with the addition of Bobby Witt Jr., MJ Melendez, and Nick Pratto. Would it surprise you at all if this was the roster next August?

  • 1B: Nick Pratto
  • 2B: Whit Merrifield
  • SS: Nicky Lopez
  • 3B: Bobby Witt Jr.
  • C: MJ Melendez
  • LF: Andrew Benintendi
  • CF: Michael A. Taylor
  • RF: Kyle Isbel
  • DH Salvador Perez
  • Bench: Edward Olivares
  • Bench: Vinnie Pasquantino
  • Bench: Adalberto Mondesi
  • Bench: Hunter Dozier
  • SP: Brad Keller
  • SP: Brady Singer
  • SP: Daniel Lynch
  • SP: Kris Bubic
  • SP: Carlos Hernandez
  • Pen: Jackson Kowar
  • Pen: Scott Barlow
  • Pen: Josh Staumont
  • Pen: Jake Brentz
  • Pen: Austin Cox
  • Pen: Jonathan Heasley
  • Pen: Daniel Tillo
  • Pen: Ronald Bolanos

19 of the 26 aforementioned players have spent the entirety of their professional careers in the Kansas City Royals organization. That is pretty damn impressive. I obviously have no idea what the Royals plans are for 2022, but assuming the roster resembles something close to what I have listed above, almost the entirety of the starting lineups will be homegrown. This doesn’t even give them credit for snagging Scott Barlow as a MiLB free agent, or Brad Keller in the Rule 5 Draft. The Royals have done a phenomenal job of building depth in their system lately and it’s about to (finally) pay off for them in a big way.

To conclude:

  1. I don’t think the Royals window for playoff contention opens in 2022 under the current playoff format. Give the kids a year to get their feet wet, give the rotation one more year to establish themselves, then go get yourself a big time free agent next offseason to put this team over the top in 2023.
  2. Whit Merrifield is getting up there in age, but most of this Royals core is under 30 years old, which is great. They’re going to have a wonderful combination of veteran experience and extremely talented youth here in a couple of years.
  3. I’d take this core (at present) over anyone else in the AL Central in 2025. There’s not a single other roster I’d rather bet on. This team is going to be really good if they’re patient and play their cards right. I don’t know exactly how much of this core will still be together in 2025, but the Royals have a beautiful core to build around and it’s only going to get better if they can find a big piece or two to add through trade or free agency.

4 thoughts on “Evaluating the AL Central Windows: Kansas City

  1. Hi Alex,
    Good to hear from you again. Slow off season for KC especially with lockout. Agreed with your assessment on 1&2 especially with Whit slowing down. I really see KC sliding Nicky to 2B and either BWJ or Mondesi to SS when Whit shows his age. His play in OF is something KC should avoid if possible. Isbel is entering a key year for his career. A put up or shut up season. I’d be comfortable with KC signing a short term RF to balance the OF for 2022. I like putting the young starters in the pen for those who don’t make the cut in rotation i.e. Heasley.

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  2. Great piece man. I agree on all your points. I know some people are frustrated with the lack of activity this off-season but I think there is a clear plan in place in terms of how to win, and to me, that’s what you want to see as a fan. I know fans are clamoring for ‘22 but I think as you said, ‘23 is when things really start humming both on the field and in terms of acquisitions. I think the Royals still need a year to evaluate this young staff and see who will be a part of the rotation long term and who will perhaps be a bullpen piece or perhaps traded elsewhere.

    Like

  3. Pingback: Royals Rumblings - News for December 10, 2021 - Royals Review - Slats on Sports (and other things)

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