There are bleak times ahead for Kansas City Royals fans. With their three best position players more than likely gone to free agency and seemingly sunk costs on Alex Gordon and Ian Kennedy, the team is forced into a rebuild situation. Dayton Moore seems committed to the idea of a rebuild, saying it’s “going to be an exciting time.” While he might be excited for the rebuilding process, the product might be less appealing. Fangraphs Depth Charts projects only six players to accumulate more than 1.0 win above replacement. So, there are good things to watch for in Royals 2018 season, even if the overall product is left wanting.
Kansas City Royals 2018 Season Preview
The Good: The Stars That Remain
First, the good news. The Royals still have Salvador Perez, one of the better catchers in the league, and on a team-friendly deal to boot. Also, Danny Duffy might have been pitching hurt last year; after he underwent surgery on his elbow, he stated he had “forgotten what it felt like to throw without any pain or discomfort.” If he can rebound, he can probably return more value than what he’s projected for. Whit Merrifield broke out at second base in a big way last year, too.
That might be it for the good, though. Gordon looked lost at the plate last year, although he may have left a hint of a rebound chance with a strong September. He’s been working on retooling his swing and his approach at the plate. If his bat can recover and he can stay above average in left field, one can dream of another 2.0 WAR season. Still, for a team hurting just about everywhere else on the roster, that might not be what the Royals want from a player they’re paying $20 million to.
The Bad: The Rest of the Lineup
The Royals re-signed Alcides Escobar to play shortstop, which shows the level of confidence they have in Raul Mondesi Jr. Cheslor Cuthbert and Hunter Dozier might be the guys to play the corners if Kansas City loses out on Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas in free agency. Paulo Orlando is more of a fourth outfielder than a guy you’d like to start in center. Jorge Bonifacio has a lot of potential in right field, but he might not be completely able to tap into all of it yet.
The Ugly: The Pitching Outside Of Duffy
The rotation looks even shakier. If you thought an iffy Gordon at $20 million seemed bad, then Kennedy at $16 million probably leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Jakob Junis showed flashes last year, but with only two good pitches, he’s hardly dependable. That leaves a back end of Nate Karns, who is hardly the picture of health, Jason Hammel, who struggled with the long ball last year, and Jesse Hahn, who is interesting but has issues of his own.
The bullpen is even more horrendous. Kelvin Herrera was still good last year, but his skills are obviously in decline. Guys like Brandon Maurer and Wily Peralta don’t exactly inspire a lot of confidence, either.
Overall, this team is bad. Only the Miami Marlins and the Chicago White Sox project to be worse, according to Fangraphs. The rebuild is on, which means come trade deadline time, this team could be even worse to watch. If you’re a fan of the Royals, the only thing that might be able to help carry you through this season is watching the young guys, like Dozier and Bonifacio, develop. The 2018 season doesn’t hold much hope for being an exciting year on the field, but Dayton Moore is excited for the rebuild, and maybe Kansas City fans should be, too. After all, this regime has built a championship contender before; maybe, with time, they can do it again.