Last season the Kansas City Royals finished 72-90. It was the ninth year in a row that they had finished below .500 and 17th time in 18 seasons that they have failed to have a winning record. After years like the Royals have had in the last two decades it would be easy to write them off once again for 2013 but the times they are changing.
The Royals made a move this off-season that is uncharacteristic of how they have approached their previous off-seasons, they acquired James Shields from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for top prospect Wil Meyers. Adding Shields bolsters a pitching staff that will also feature reclamation projects Jeremy Guthrie and Ervin Santana, two talented but flawed pitchers. If they can put together consistent starts the Royals offense should do enough damage to opposing teams to at least give the Royals a fighting chance.
Adding Shields is huge for the Royals. It gives them the ace they have lacked since Zack Greinke left. Shields is a tough competitor who should see improved numbers away from the AL East this season. He is also a staff leader who has pitched in big games before and could help lead the Royals staff as they start to bring up some of their young pitchers in the next year or two.
More importantly, it sends a message to the players that they are serious about contending and doing so soon. With Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas the Royals lineup can be as good as anyone in their division. Hosmer and Moustakas still have a lot of developing to do but the talent is obviously there and they should be entering the prime of their career in a year or two, maybe even this year if adjustments are made.
The Royals might still be a few years away from contending for anything serious and may never get close if their young talent doesn’t develop. At least this off-season they started to move in the right direction.