With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Royals squad each day this week. Today's topic: The perfect season.KANSAS CITY -- When injuries and fatigue conspired to knock the 2015 World Series champions back to 81-81 in '16, many believed that
With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Royals squad each day this week. Today's topic: The perfect season.
KANSAS CITY -- When injuries and fatigue conspired to knock the 2015 World Series champions back to 81-81 in '16, many believed that would be the end of the Royals' run.
Not so fast. From management to the coaching staff to the players, the Royals still believe they are a World Series contender.
And with several potential free agents after 2017 -- Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, and Alcides Escobar -- and the window of opportunity perhaps closing, the Royals' perfect season would be for that core to go out with another championship parade.
"The reality is that you can't keep everyone together forever," left-hander Danny Duffy said. "That's why everyone on this team looks at this season as a great opportunity for another championship. Everyone is going to give it everything they've got."
There are going to be doubters after that 81-81 season last year. PECOTA, a computer-based projection model, projects the Royals to finish a league-worst 72 wins in 2017. Then again, PECOTA never has projected the club to have a winning record and has whiffed wildly year after year on the Royals.
• Across the Majors, goals set for 2017
"I truly think a full offseason is going to help our team," manager Ned Yost said. "Everyone from Alex Gordon to Christopher Young had an opportunity to conduct their full offseason training program. I expect this entire team to come back healthy and motivated to win another championship."
Ownership didn't throw in the towel for 2017, either. Despite offseason orders to trim payroll significantly, general manager Dayton Moore was allowed two late offseason free-agent signings -- Brandon Moss and Jason Hammel for two-year, $12 million deals each -- that will again push the payroll north of $140 million.
Clearly, the Royals are all in for 2017.
"No one was happy about last year," infielder Christian Colon said. "We have a chance to wipe the slate clean and go after another title."
One key will be for the Royals to stay in contention come late July, or the temptation may be too great to cash in on the pending free agents for prospects who could enhance the rebuilding phase.
But Moore isn't thinking that far ahead yet.
"We're in no hurry to break up this team," he said.
Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.