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What to know: Royals 2020 offseason FAQ

@FlannyMLB
November 1, 2020

KANSAS CITY -- This will be an interesting offseason for the Royals, who have several decisions to make regarding their roster, including potential non-tender candidates and the future of players on the 60-day injured list. Kansas City has nine players eligible for arbitration, which will keep its front office busy

KANSAS CITY -- This will be an interesting offseason for the Royals, who have several decisions to make regarding their roster, including potential non-tender candidates and the future of players on the 60-day injured list.

Kansas City has nine players eligible for arbitration, which will keep its front office busy this winter deciding which players to settle with and which to possibly re-sign.

Here’s a look at the Royals’ offseason decisions:

Which players are free agents?
Right-hander Matt Harvey and relievers Ian Kennedy and Greg Holland are now free agents -- and technically so is outfielder Alex Gordon, who has announced his retirement. That frees up four spots on the 40-man roster, which presently is full. It also frees up almost $22 million in payroll, although much of that will get chewed up while paying the Royals’ arbitration-eligible players.

The Royals did not give Kennedy and Holland qualifying offers.

Kansas City’s projected 2020 payroll was going to be around $90 million, though because of the shortened season, it was a little over a third of that.

What happens to the players on the 60-day injured list?
By the sixth day after the World Series concluded, those players on the 60-day IL had to be reinstated. For the Royals, that was Harvey, left-hander Foster Griffin, right-hander Glenn Sparkman and right-hander Kyle Zimmer.

Kansas City reinstated Griffin, Sparkman and Zimmer to the 40-man. Harvey is a free agent, though the Royals are interested in re-signing him to another Minor League deal this offseason, provided they can convince him that his future lies as a reliever or an opener.

And Kansas City will definitely be interested in re-signing Holland, who was 3-0 with a 1.91 ERA and had six saves. Holland was well-liked by the younger Royals relievers, who viewed him as a mentor. But, of course, finances will be an issue in trying to bring back Holland, or Trevor Rosenthal, who started the season with the Royals and was traded to San Diego. Rosenthal also is a pending free agent.

Kennedy, 35, earlier told MLB.com that he was interested in continuing to play beyond this season. And although he struggled with a 9.00 ERA in 15 games in 2020, the Royals would be interested in a cost-efficient deal for ‘21 to bolster their bullpen.

Who could be non-tendered?
The deadline to tender contracts for 2021 is Dec. 2. And with the Royals staring at nine arbitration cases, you can expect some players to be non-tendered.

The players originally eligible for arbitration included Sparkman, Jorge Soler, Mike Montgomery, Maikel Franco, Brad Keller, Hunter Dozier, Jakob Junis, Kevin McCarthy, Adalberto Mondesi, Jesse Hahn and Franchy Cordero.

Soler, Franco, Keller, Dozier and Mondesi likely will get significant pay bumps. Soler avoided arbitration last season by signing a one-year, $7.3 million deal. He, Keller, Dozier and Mondesi all are candidates for contract extensions, something the Royals certainly are considering. All indications are that new owner John Sherman is interested in keeping that core in Kansas City for years to come.

Franco was exactly what the Royals were hoping for when they signed him to a one-year, $2.95 million deal last offseason. He led the team with 16 doubles and 38 RBIs, and he was very popular in the clubhouse.

The Royals saved some money by outrighting Montgomery, who missed almost all of 2020 because of a lat strain and was projected to make $3.1 million prior to the season.

They also saved some money, not much, by outrighting McCarthy, who pitched in only five games before spending most of the summer at the alternate training site. Both Montgomery and McCarthy elected free agency.

Also important to note: Under general manager Dayton Moore’s regime, the club has gone to an arbitration hearing only once. That was in 2018, when reliever Brandon Maurer asked for $3.5 million, lost the case and was awarded the Royals’ offering of $2.95 million.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB.