5 questions facing the Royals in 2021

December 31st, 2020

KANSAS CITY -- Royals general manager Dayton Moore vowed to be more “transactional” this offseason. And so far, he has lived up to that pledge, signing outfielder , closer , first baseman , and starting pitchers and (Minor League deal).

So where does that leave the Royals, who now clearly feel they are ready to compete again in the American League Central.

Here are five questions surrounding the Royals entering 2021:

1. Will the Royals sign anyone else?
Moore told MLB.com recently they are still interested in acquiring a left-handed bat. That likely will be a left fielder. will move to third base with the departure of Maikel Franco and the signing of Carlos Santana. Taylor will likely claim the center field job, moving to right field. will get the first shot in left field to replace Alex Gordon, but if the Royals find a veteran left-handed bat there, Moore won’t hesitate to upgrade.

2. How will the rotation look?
has established himself as the ace, and it’s likely will slide into the No. 2 spot. Manager Mike Matheny told MLB.com he views as a starter, not a bullpen option. Minor and would then fill out the rotation. And don’t rule out , who was impressive at the end of 2020.

3. Where does fit in?
Junis has been an inconsistent starter in his career with the Royals. And the organization has long believed that Junis might be more effective as a short reliever. Matheny said Junis will be stretched out in camp, simply because the Royals need depth for the rotation. But my guess is that Junis eventually will become part of what’s becoming a shutdown bullpen, with Holland, , , , , , etc.

4. What will the batting order look like?
Merrifield and almost surely will remain in the top two spots, especially with how Mondesi soared at the end of 2020. So let’s go with this:

1. Whit Merrifield RF
2. Adalberto Mondesi SS
3. C
4. DH
5. Hunter Dozier 3B
6. Carlos Santana 1B
7. Franchy Cordero LF
8. Michael A. Taylor CF
9. 2B

5. Who will be part of the next wave of young pitching prospects to surface?
The consensus among Royals officials is that prospects such as Daniel Lynch (Kansas City's No. 3 prospect, per MLB Pipeline), Jackson Kowar (No. 4) and Jonathan Bowlan (No. 9) likely will make their debuts in 2021. Last year’s first-round pick, Asa Lacy (No. 2), needs to play in the Minors for a year, though the Royals say they won’t limit expectations for him. Jon Heasley (No. 26) is another name you’ll be hearing about.