I wrote an article back in October regarding the “top-6” priorities for the Royals this offseason. They were as follows:
- Fire Matheny and Eldred
- Get rid of O’Hearn, MAT, and Dozier
- Find two new starting pitchers
- Lock up Zumwalt and Saylor
- Overhaul the pitching development
- Identify a player or two to lock up long-term
The only thing I regret not adding to that list is adding another bat. I know they have a lot of young bats coming up but it would’ve been nice to sign a guy like Franmil Reyes to a minor league deal and see if he could recoup some of that 2021 power that saw him hit 30 home runs.
OH WAIT. They did that! I wasn’t overly impressed with the Royals offseason before that, but after that signing and revisiting these priorities from October, maybe it’s unfair to consider this offseason a total failure? Here are some of my thoughts as we sit here on February 16th, day one of baseball season in Kansas City.
#1: They did the bare minimum, and that’s good.
The Royals fired Matheny and Eldred something like 36 hours after my initial article ran. They were on top of that mess quick fast and in a hurry. Then they traded MAT and Ryan O’Hearn, two of three moves that trimmed the fat off of this roster a bit. Hunter Dozier is still a Royal, but his contract is so bad that it would’ve been tough to expect them to find a taker for him. As long as he’s not playing every day with a 90 wRC+ in June, I won’t throw a fit. In the wise words of our friends Meat Loaf, two out of three ain’t bad.
#2: They found some new arms…but they aren’t exactly what we were hoping for.
Technically the Royals did what I asked them to do. They went out and signed two free agent pitchers with a chance to eat a bunch of innings in 2023. The only real issue I had with who they signed was the quality of the pitchers. Ryan Yarbrough and Jordan Lyles are almost literally just “please record some outs” options for new pitching coach Brian Sweeney. With some legitimately intriguing options on the market, you would have hoped for a little more talent in the signings, but they did go out and get a couple new arms nonetheless. At the very least, this should take some pressure off the young starters and the bullpen.
#3: Alec Zumwalt and Drew Saylor are still part of the hitting development staff, and that’s good.
Zumwalt is the big league hitting coach and Saylor is running the minor league hitting development team. That’s about all you could have asked for heading into this offseason. I don’t know how this shakes out long-term, but it’s great to still have them both for now.
#4: They overhauled the pitching development staff, and that’s good.
The Royals brought in Brian Sweeney from the Cleveland Guardians and Zach Bove from the Minnesota Twins to help out with the pitching development staff. Sweeney will be the big league pitching coach and Bove will be his assistant. We obviously have no way of knowing how this will shake out in the end, but they hired two great minds from two great PD departments and that’s about all you can ask for. Now we just have to wait and see how it all plays out.
#5: Brady Singer went to arbitration over $300,000 and the Royals have yet to hand out a single extension.
This is objectively the biggest failure of the Royals offseason SO FAR. It is entirely possible that they’ll announce an extension for Vinnie Pasquantino in a few minutes and then I’ll just look like the silliest of gooses. I’m withholding judgement until Opening Day for my *final* grade for the offseason but, given that Singer just went to arbitration, I’m only about 30% confident we see any extensions given out this winter. We’ll see! Lotta time left.
Final Grade So Far…
It wouldn’t be fair of me to give the Royals a list of priorities for the offseason, watch them cross off most of them, and then still give them an F. They accomplished 5 of the 6 priorities I listed, good for an 83%. It’s really probably closer to 4.5…but whatever. I love that they traded MAT. I love the Franmil Reyes signing. Ryan O’Hearn, Mike Matheny, and Cal Eldred had to go. Addition by subtraction. They technically brought in arms to relieve the current staff from having to eat so many innings in 2023 like they did in 2022. I don’t love it, but they clearly have a plan for the first time in years, and that’s a good start for me. Call me cautiously optimistic about the direction of this ball club.
One thought on “Grading the Royals Offseason”
I think the new pitching coaches are going to do wonders for our pitchers! If Singer has a 3.10 ERA, Greinke has a 4.10 ERA, Lyles has a 4.40 ERA, Daniel Lynch steps up and has a 4.45 ERA and maybe Brad Keller has a 4.75 ERA….. think about those numbers compared to the starting pitching we had last year. With our multiple young bats, I just have a feeling that the Royals make a big step this year. 80-82. You might be thinking I’m a freak….lol…but I just have an odd feeling this year about this squad. 🤷🏻♂️🤷🏻♂️. And I’m not against a 2nd young starting pitcher breaking out.