Going into the 2022, the Royals have to make a decision, when do you go for it and the rebuild?
Royals have both strengths and weakness. The top four in the batting order is a potent. Merrifield is hitting .279 with 171 hits and 40 stolen bases. While he is below his lifetime, still he is hitting close to .280 and playing solid defense at second. Nicky Lopez is hitting .300 and 20 steals along with solid defense at short. My own view is that Lopez .300 is for real and he has finally put it together. He knows his limitation and worked his strength. He was a .300 plus hitter in the minors and he is fulfilling his potential.
Perez is having a career year and showing why he is worth the long term contract given to him and Benintendi is hitting .280 with 15 homers. Here is the dilemma, both Merrifield is signed through 2023 and Benintendi through 2022. If they end their rebuild, both men are Royals next year. Benintendi has recovered much of his 2018 season and proved to be an excellent replacement defensively for Gordon. Do you take your chance that you won’t resign him but keep him for 2022. If you are not certain that you are close to contending, no but if you think the rebuild is not yet complete, then yes.
The bottom half of the batting order is problematic. Mondesi is potentially a star but he can’t stay on the field. Dozier got his contract but has hit poorly in 2020 and 2021. Ryan O’Hearn has yet to show he is a long term solution. Michael Taylor is a good defensive centerfield and has 12 homers. He is a .245 hitter and if you had other offensive players surrounding him, he is worth keeping but when you Dozier and O Hearn hitting .210 and .220, maybe he is a luxury you can’t afford.
The key is do you think Isabel and Olivares are ready to play, then you cut bait with O’Hearn. McBroom spent most of the year in Omaha and he has 30 homers so you have to wonder why wasn’t he on Royals as oppose to O’Hearn. As for Dozier, if he wasn’t signed to a long term contract, he would be gone. Next year you have Witt coming up to play infield, and he has shown that he has nothing to prove in the minors. Witt has the defensive skills, speed, and power to go with his hitting skills. Behind him is M.j. Melendez and Nick Pratto, both power hitters in their right. Those three hit nearly 100 homers this past year. Will they be ready for the show? If Witt shows his potential and Mondesi can stay healthy enough to play most games, then we are talking a potent offense.
Baseball is about pitching and the starting pitching is a mess. Daniel Lynch and Kris Bubic have had their moments but they also had those games that reminded us they are still young. Brad Singer has taken a step backward from 2020 and needs to develop a third pitch and Kowar shown that he is not ready for the show. Carlos Hernandez made the jump this year as he is the only Royal starting pitcher who will end up with a winning record. Brad Keller took step a back and is now shut down for the year. Mike Minor second tour as a Royal was hardly a success and he is now on the IR. Keller and Minor were both 8-12.
Bentz, Staumont, Barlow had a decent year as relief pitchers and Bolanos, Tapia may have the potential to add depth of the bullpen.
The Royals are deep in pitching talent in the minors and the question is whether they would be traded for starters. If they think they are close, then minor league prospects will be traded.
Royals are close to be contenders with strong nucleus at the top of the order but pitching is 90 percent of baseball and that is Royals major issue. Pitching.