Ad Astra Radio Family Brands

What the Royals Have in Store for 2024 Season

SHARE NOW

By Anne Rogers, MLB.com/Royals

 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Royals avoided sole possession of the worst record in franchise history by winning Sunday’s season finale over the Yankees and instead finished 2023 tied with the ‘05 club with a 56-106 record.

That sets up what should be a busy offseason to improve the roster externally. General manager J.J. Picollo held his end-of-season press conference along with manager Matt Quatraro on Tuesday morning at Kauffman Stadium and confirmed that all coaches will return in their role in 2024.

So Kansas City will be turning its attention to the roster, and there’s a lot to address.

Starting pitching. Relief pitching. A bat or two — particularly a corner outfielder who can impact the middle of the lineup.

“One hundred and six losses is a difficult thing to take,” Picollo said. “There were a lot of challenges along the way. It’s not what our expectations were. Our expectations were much greater. We accept responsibility for that.”

Picollo did not indicate what the 2024 payroll might be; Kansas City’s Opening Day payroll this year was around $92 million. Zack Greinke ($8.5 million), Brad Keller ($5.8 million) and Matt Duffy ($1.5 million) are the impending free agents.

“I have a general idea of where we’re at, but where we’re going to go, we’re not sure yet,” Picollo said. “We’re just getting to that phase now. I also want to say this: Whatever the rules of engagement are, it’s our job to get the most out of it. Whether it’s $100 million, $120 million or $80 million, it’s our job to get the most out of it. Teams have won with lesser payrolls.”

It’s safe to say the Royals won’t be jumping into the top tier of baseball payrolls over the winter. They are also open to trading players off their Major League roster to net prospects or other Major League-ready players.

At the Trade Deadline, the Royals explored trade scenarios that included their captain, catcher Salvador Perez, who is owed a guaranteed $40 million the next two seasons. Those conversations could return this winter — while keeping in mind Perez has 10-and-5 rights and can veto any trade — but Picollo seemed to suggest that, for now, Perez will likely stay in Kansas City.

“He reiterated on his way out the door that he loves being a Royal and loves being in Kansas City,” Picollo said. “He also followed that up with, ‘I understand it’s a business.’ He wants nothing more than to be part of this team winning again. He’s the guy in our clubhouse who has experienced success at its highest level in baseball. He feels good about where our team is — better as the season ended than in the middle of the year, which is encouraging. When we evaluate and think about leadership, veteran presence and needing more of it, Salvy represents that.

“He’ll be part of this. And we look forward to having him back. I look forward to having him be a part of a team that wins again in Kansas City.”

In 2023, the Royals saw Bobby Witt Jr. emerge as their everyday shortstop. It appears that Maikel Garcia can be the leadoff hitter and everyday third baseman, although his ability to play second base offers Kansas City flexibility when looking for offense this winter. First baseman Vinnie Pasquantino’s return gives more optimism for the offense.

But everywhere else on the field and the pitching staff seems open to competition. Brady Singer, Cole Ragans and Jordan Lyles are the only sure returners to the rotation.

“The level of patience we’ve shown, the opportunity we’ve given guys, is adequate,” Picollo said. “But we need to start thinking more about what we need to do to enhance this roster and not be as cognizant of who’s on the roster right now. If we can get better, we’re going to get better, and that’s ultimately the goal of our front office.”

The Royals’ expectation is not to flip a 106-loss team to a contender in 2024. But Picollo said they want to play meaningful baseball in the second half, and in the American League Central, that’s not going to require 100 wins — The Twins won 87 games and the division title with a nine-game lead over the second-place Guardians.

“Right now, I can’t sit here and say that ‘24 is the year that we’re going to definitely win the division,” Picollo said. “But we expect to get better, and I don’t think it’s going to take a whole lot. If you look at our division, there’s a lot of parity. If we’re in that 85-win range, you’re going to be in some sort of race.

“It’s hard to put a timetable on it to say we expect to win X number of games. I think a lot of it is going to depend on what we do with the roster through the offseason.”