With all the madness involved with roster moves going on constantly, the Kansas City Royals are a team with an identity that isn’t yet fully formed. The Royals finally achieved success and even relevance in the 2013 regular season. Already in the 2013 offseason, KC has suffered significant losses and seen new and important additions to the roster. After such change, does the team as it stands today look better or worse on paper than the 2013 Royals?
Replacing Ervin Santana‘s 3.24 ERA from 2013 with Jason Vargas‘ career average of 4.3 is already a big step in the wrong direction. It will probably be up to Danny Duffy, Yordano Ventura and others to improve upon Wade Davis‘ 24 starts and 5.67 ERA as a starter, which does leave some room for success. While the promise of young pitching gives KC some wiggle room to expect improvement, the true problem is still the lack of offense.
Thanks to some “very available” live arms in the bullpen that the Royals are adamantly open to trading, KC still has a few chips to cash in for a power bat. Dexter Fowler is a viable target whose average injury-free season would give the Royals a few extra doubles, some triples and barely-double-digit home runs. While that kind of possibility to improve offensively shouldn’t be scoffed at, KC will need more to truly compete in the AL.
None of the four teams in the American League that scored less runs than the Royals came close to reaching the playoffs. Only one team in the entire MLB with less run production than KC, the Pittsburgh Pirates, was able to reach the postseason. The difference between Fowler and an already competent David Lough in right field won’t be enough to make KC better than they were in 2013.
The good news is obvious: this offseason is far from over. The bad news, though, is frightening; if the offseason doesn’t climax in another big deal, the Royals will struggle to improve on last year’s success.