Royals' biggest difference on the mound

Club adds power, but rotation, bullpen are key to 2017

February 7th, 2017

With Spring Training fast approaching, will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Royals squad each day this week. Today's topic: What's the difference?

KANSAS CITY -- There is a growing narrative surrounding the 2017 Royals that the team is abandoning its foundation of speed and defense to transform into a more prototypical American League team, and that the big difference in this year's Royals will be more power.

There is some truth to that, but it is not as if the Royals have abandoned their core principles of speed and defense.

Sure, the Royals subtracted the speedy and added slugger in right field, giving them more pop at that spot since the days of Jermaine Dye.

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And the Royals last week added 33-year-old , who hit 28 home runs last season and who occasionally will patrol a corner-outfield spot with, at best, average speed.

How has each MLB club changed for 2017?

But Royals general manager Dayton Moore, while acknowledging he'd like to see his team hit more home runs, insisted there have been no philosophical shifts in the organization: He still covets speed and defense.

"We still have guys like and Billy Burns and and and Whit Merrifield," Moore said. "We've got speed. Our first baseman [] can go first to third and score from second with the best of them. We're not going to abandon that.

"We know what wins in this ballpark. We know what we have to do. But also we know we have to score more runs and hit the ball out of the ballpark a little more. I think we'll be capable of doing that.

"It doesn't mean we won't rely on defense. We will, especially late. We've got enough horses that can cover this outfield."

Where fans will see a difference in the 2017 Royals is mostly on the mound.

The rotation will look markedly different with the loss of to free agency and, of course, with the loss of , tragically killed in a car accident.

Moore is sold on Danny Duffy, and as his front three. On Sunday, the Royals reportedly reached a two-year agreement with free agent . The fifth spot likely will be a competition among (acquired from Seattle for Dyson), , and .

Where fans will see the biggest change will be in the bullpen. It seems like only yesterday the Royals' vaunted bullpen featured shutdown relievers , Greg Holland,  and . They've all left by trade or free agency.

Only , the closer, remains from the once-heralded group. Moore is relying on Herrera, , and perhaps Strahm to be this year's stoppers. Moore also speaks highly of No. 10 prospect, he of the 101-mph fastball.

Because of the Royals' market size, change is inevitable. Rosters will fluctuate from year to year. Moore understands that.

But the core of the Royals championship team of 2015 -- Hosmer, Cain, Mike Moustakas, , and  -- remains for one more push toward another championship before several of those players may leave for free agency.

"This is who we are right now," Moore said. "It is what it is. And I fully believe this group can compete for another championship."

Pitchers and catchers have their first spring workout on Feb. 14 and the first full-squad workout at Surprise Stadium is Feb. 17.