KANSAS CITY -- While the Royals will have some noticeable salaries coming off the payroll -- Ian Kennedy (free agent) and Alex Gordon (retired) -- there likely won’t be that much financial flexibility for new owner John Sherman, who is still in his first year at the helm.
The Royals do have needs entering 2021, and MLB.com will keep a running list here of what transactions they make during the offseason.
The Royals now will have to replace Gordon, which won’t be an easy task, in left field. It’s likely that Franchy Cordero gets the first crack at the job, but Kansas City still has very little experienced depth in the outfield, though it added former Nationals outfielder Michael A. Taylor, who will compete for the center fielder job. Whit Merrifield likely will patrol right field. But the other outfield candidates on the 40-man roster -- Edward Olivares and Nick Heath -- have very little experience. The club will search for a cost-efficient veteran or two as either a starter or to add depth. General manager Dayton Moore has told MLB.com that he would like to add a left-handed bat, though that could also come as a first baseman as Hunter Dozier moves to third base.
The Royals’ bullpen was the strength of their 2020 season, which was a big surprise. The Royals signed Greg Holland back, and in a perfect world, would also get Trevor Rosenthal, who was dealt to San Diego at the Trade Deadline, back as well, though that is a reach. Moore and his staff will be on the lookout for low-risk-high-reward deals for bullpen help, like Holland and Rosenthal were prior to 2020.
So what team isn’t looking for starting pitching? Granted, the Royals have a wave of young prospects who could be factors in 2021, such as Jackson Kowar, Daniel Lynch and even Asa Lacy, their top Draft pick from '20. But with Mike Montgomery opting for free agency, the rotation is pretty thin right now with Brad Keller, Danny Duffy, Brady Singer and Kris Bubic as likely starters. The Royals did sign left-hander Mike Minor, who will slide into the rotation. Right-hander Jakob Junis, a former starter, is making the conversion to the bullpen. That leaves Kansas City in the market for a potential starter trying to resurrect his career -- again, someone who is low-risk-high-reward -- for more depth.
With the non-tender of Maikel Franco, the Royals may turn to Dozier to play third again. Dozier began his career at third base, but started last season in right field before switching to first base. Moore is still coveting a middle-of-the-order bat, and that search will open up to either corner-infield position.
Jan. 31: Alberto signs Minor League deal: Versatile infielder Hanser Alberto signed a Minor League deal with the Royals, giving the club needed infield depth and a lefty masher. Alberto, 28, has hit .350/.367/.464 with an .831 OPS in 623 plate appearances against left-handed pitching in his career. Against righties, he has hit .237/.263/.328 with a .591 OPS.
Jan. 20: Davis returns: Reliever Wade Davis signed a Minor League deal, returning to the organization that he helped win the World Series in 2015. The right-hander will earn $1.25 million if he makes the big league club, and there are also about $1 million in incentives. While Davis has struggled the past two years, he had a 0.94 ERA in 2015 and posted a 0.36 ERA during the 2014 and ’15 postseasons with Kansas City.
Dec. 14: Holland re-signed: Closer Greg Holland was re-signed to a one-year deal that is worth $2.75 million, a source told MLB.com, and he has $1.5 million available in performance bonuses. The right-hander was an integral part of Kansas City's impressive bullpen in 2020.
Dec. 2: Santana signed to two-year deal: The Royals believe they found a middle-of-the-order bat in Carlos Santana, who signed a two-year contract that is worth $17.5 million, a source told MLB.com. A switch-hitter, Santana has a .248/.366/.446 lifetime slash line with 240 homers and 991 walks in 1,495 games after spending 10 of his 11 career seasons in Cleveland.
Dec. 2: Franco non-tendered: Signed to one-year deals: DH Jorge Soler, outfielder Franchy Cordero, right-handers Jesse Hahn, and Junis, and infielder/outfielder Dozier. Non-tendered third baseman Franco, infielder Jeison Guzman, outfielder Bubba Starling and infielder Erick Mejia.
Dec. 1: Minor returns to K.C.: The Royals brought back Mike Minor, who pitched for the club in 2017, on a two-year deal. A source told MLB.com that the contract is worth $18 million guaranteed with a club option for 2023. The left-hander will slot in as a veteran presence for the young rotation.
Nov. 30: Signed OF Taylor: Michael A. Taylor, 29, signed a one-year deal for $1.75 million, a source confirmed to MLB.com. He became a free agent in October after seven seasons with the Nationals.
“I think there is still some untapped potential there [with Taylor],” Moore said. “I think he’d be the first to tell you he hasn’t been as consistent as he’d like. But he’s been a part of championship teams. He has speed and power.”
Nov. 20: Sparkman, Speier DFA'd; Adams outrighted; four prospects added to 40-man: Kansas City designated right-hander Glenn Sparkman and left-hander Gabe Speier for assignment, and it also outrighted right-hander Chance Adams, who cleared waivers and was assigned to Triple-A Omaha. Adams had Tommy John surgery in October.
Sparkman cleared waivers and became a free agent. Speier also cleared waivers and was outrighted to Omaha.
Oct. 30: Montgomery, McCarthy outrighted
The Royals saved some money when Montgomery and right-hander Kevin McCarthy, who had been outrighted, opted for free agency instead. Both were eligible for arbitration. Montgomery was due to make $3.1 million last season, prior to the pandemic, and McCarthy would have made $700,000.
Oct. 30: Sanabria claimed
The Royals claimed right-hander Carlos Sanabria, 23, off waivers from Houston. Sanabria was the Astros’ No. 30 prospect per MLB Pipeline. He made his Major League debut with Houston on Aug. 5, and pitched in two games, which included a scoreless inning on Aug. 9 in Oakland. In 2019, he pitched in 43 games between Double-A Corpus Christi and Class A Advanced Fayetteville, going a combined 6-3 with a 2.84 ERA (21 ER in 66 2/3 IP), while also recording seven saves in nine chances.