The Kansas City Royals’ 65-97 record in 2022 wasn’t nearly as high as many indoors or expected outside the organization. That much was clear.
Starting the year with an optimistic outlook after a 2021 season of 74 wins, the bar was promptly raised for 2022. With youngsters like Bobby Witt Jr. and MJ Melendez making their names early in the season, and others like Vinnie Pasquantino joining them later, the future looked bright for Kansas City and the present didn’t look too bright either bleak. Instead, the Royals’ pitching struggled immensely throughout the year and the team stumbled on nearly 100 losses. That doesn’t stop Bleacher report refrain from being a bit hopeful about 2023.
In B/R’s pre-free agency power rankings, Joel Reuter published a list of all 30 MLB clubs and ranked them in ascending order based on their prospects for next season. Kansas City checked in at number 24 (seventh worst place), but the article lists many reasons why things may change in a few months — possibly in big ways:
The Kansas City Royals feel like a team poised to make a significant step forward in the near future, and while they’ve never been a top donor, with an opening-day 2022 payroll of around $50 million, they have Dollars have plenty of financial wiggle room below their peak spending in 2017.
Bobby Witt Jr., Vinnie Pasquantino and MJ Melendez all look like longtime players offensively alongside established star Salvador Perez, while Brady Singer, 2018 first-round winner, now looks like a true personal ace after posting a 3.23 ERA, 1, Has posted 14 WHIP and 150 strikeouts in 153.1 innings.
Veteran Zack Greinke is also expected to return to free reign and with some more complimentary additions to the roster and another step forward from its young core, this team could be a dark horse contender in 2023.
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Every point made there is valid, especially when it comes to the young core of players who complement Perez on the squad. Even if Greinke returns and the youngsters continue to develop as the offseason progresses, the Royals will need more to be competitive in 2023. These include internal pitching development, external rotation and bullpen spending, and possibly other impacts bat injected into the lineup. The roster currently in place won’t result in a ton of improvement next year.
Executive vice president of baseball operations and general manager JJ Picollo has said in recent weeks that timing is important for big expenses. If Kansas City hasn’t shown it can win games, the front office (and Chairman/CEO John Sherman) may not spend to fight. This crawl-before-walk phenomenon could unfold intriguingly over the next year.
Many are looking at 2023 as a year that will bridge the gap between a troubled 2022 team and a shiny 2024 Kansas City team, which is probably more realistic than being a genuine dark horse contender. With new manager Matt Quatraro taking the helm and a number of moves in store for the Royals, these power rankings are a reminder that things may not be nearly as bad as last season.