KANSAS CITY -- It's probably a bit painful for Royals fans watching the postseason with no vested interest for the first time since 2013.
So hey, we're here to assuage that pain with the first of many offseason Royals Inboxes.
I'm concerned that GM Dayton Moore will go all-in for 2017 and exit with manager Ned Yost once the cupboard is bare. Is there anything in place to stop that?
Yost's contract runs through 2018, and he told me he has every intention of honoring that. Moore in the past has been reluctant to indicate the length of his contracts, so let's assume his is year to year. While it is true there are numerous potential free agents beyond 2017 (Wade Davis, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Danny Duffy, Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, etc.), keep in mind that Ian Kennedy, Salvador Perez, Yordano Ventura, Alex Gordon and Joakim Soria are signed beyond that. Also, the Royals will have club control of Matt Strahm, Adalberto Mondesi, Cheslor Cuthbert, Paulo Orlando and Whit Merrifield for years to come.
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The Royals will lose some players after 2017 and re-sign some others, and the belief is they will reload from within their farm system to remain competitive. The drop-off after 2017 may not be as severe as the doomsayers think.
What is the latest on Greg Holland?
It has been just over a year now since Holland had Tommy John surgery, and he has been rehabbing in Arizona. His camp -- he is a Scott Boras guy -- has been very quiet about his recovery. The Royals do have interest in him. I'm guessing an offer won't come until after the World Series is completed.
Who will be the DH next year? What about the back end of the bullpen? If the rotation is Duffy-Ventura-Kennedy-Jason Vargas, who are the other 2-3 candidates?
Great question about the DH. After the season, Moore didn't seem terribly optimistic that the Royals could afford to bring Kendrys Morales back. But Moore hasn't ruled it out. And he knows the Royals won't be able to buy that kind of production on the open market. Maybe Morales will give them a discount.
Right now, the back of the bullpen is Davis and Kelvin Herrera, with Strahm (who also could be a starter) and Soria setting them up. The Royals could bring back Luke Hochevar and Peter Moylan, and they could sign Holland. Moore wants to shore up what became a combustible bullpen in September. The fifth starter could be Strahm, Mike Minor, Chris Young or an external option.
Second base is getting kind of crowded. Who has the upper hand in getting the job between Mondesi, Merrifield, Christian Colón, Cuthbert or a free agent?
Right now, the guess is that Merrifield has the inside track for the gig. It'll be an open competition among him, Mondesi, Colon and Cuthbert, who is getting reps there in instructional league. Mondesi was clearly overmatched offensively and might benefit from a year at Triple-A. The unknown factor is whether Cuthbert will have enough range and footwork to be effective at second base -- if you noticed, speed is not his greatest asset.
What do the Royals do with all the third basemen (Moose, Cuthbert, Hunter Dozier)? And will we add starting pitching?
That's one of many questions the Royals' front office is pondering this offseason. Moustakas will be back at third base in 2017. The Royals missed his offense, defense and presence in the clubhouse. He has been a key part of the winning chemistry on this team. Cuthbert is out of options, so he is going to have to show some versatility to make the 25-man roster, which is why he is playing some second base in the instructional league. Dozier will get a shot at the right-field spot in Spring Training.
What big name is most likely to be traded?
Moore got the fanbase intrigued when he indicated after the season that the Royals might "mix it up" in terms of the 2017 roster. That, of course, could mean a trade or two is on Kansas City's horizon. There immediately was speculation that Davis could be trade bait -- he certainly could bring a haul -- but keep in mind that Moore's No. 1 priority this offseason is to strengthen the bullpen, not deplete it. Cain is arguably the Royals' best overall talent and greatest trade chip, but we saw what happened to the team without him in the lineup. Stay tuned.