Kansas City Royals
Remember when the Royals were the feel-good story of the mid-2010s, the scrappy team with back-to-back pennants and a World Series championship? Yeah, this isn't them.
Not to say these Royals won't contend as their predecessors did, but some of the guys you might expect to see patrolling the Kaufmann Stadium grass have gone to greener free-agent pastures. Eric Hosmer is a Padre now. Lorenzo Cain is a Brewer. Even bench coach and former Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu is gone. Not everyone has fled—Salvador Pérez still catches with the best of them and, as no trade partners were found, Alex Gordon and Danny Duffy remain; the Royals managed to re-sign the left side of their infield, so Mike Moustakas and Alcides Escobar are still wearing KC blue—but by and large this is a reconstructed squad.
The KC faithful will have to learn to moderate their defensive expectations as Lucas Duda takes over for Hosmer at first base and John Jay replaces Cain in center. The Royals will be without projected regular right fielder Jorge Bonifacio for the first chunk of the season thanks to a PED suspension, and thus may be looking to swing a trade before opening day to shore up both that position and a middling starting pitching staff.
Players to Watch
Salvador Pérez: One of the best catchers playing today, Pérez is as durable as they come, last year was the first time since he became a regular in 2013 that he played in fewer than 130 games. Good as he is behind the dish, though, Pérez has just a .301 career on-base percentage.
Whit Merrifield: The third-year second-baseman looks to be a budding star in the KC infield. In addition to slugging 19 homers a year ago, Merrifield also led the league in stolen bases, swiping 34 bags in 42 attempts.
Jorge Soler: 2017 was a nightmare season for Soler at the big-league level, and over the offseason he embarked on a new training regimen determined to prove himself worthy of the expectations KC had when they traded star reliever Wade Davis to the Cubs for him.
Ned Yost: Because of a durable cell phone, the Royals didn't have to hire a new manager this year. Yost was working on his farm near Atlanta last November when he fell 20+ feet from a tree and broke his pelvis and several ribs, losing a great deal of blood in the process. Though in a state of shock, he retained enough wits about him to fish out his undamaged phone and call for help and was airlifted to a hospital in time to save his life. After months of recovery and rehab, Yost is back in the dugout and hoping to mold this new group of Royals into another pennant-winner.
Nathan Karns: The biggest piece the M's received in a multi-player trade with the Rays after the 2015 campaign, you'd be forgiven if you didn't remember Nate Karns as a Mariner. Karns pitched basically half a season for Seattle and spent the other half on the DL. He didn't really impress with the M's despite a 6-2 record; a 5+ ERA saw him relegated to the bullpen for a time. Prior to 2017, he was flipped to the Royals for center fielder Jarrod Dyson, who is now with the Diamondbacks.
|Kansas City Royals||(1969 - present)|
|World Champions:||1985, 2015|
|League Champions:||1980, 2014|
|Division Titles:||1976, 1977, 1978, 1981 (split-season), 1984|