A few weeks ago, I wrote an article on Baseball Essential questioning whether the Royals were going all-in or if they would attempt to sustain this window of success over the long term.
The answer to that question has now been answered. The Kansas City Royals are all-in.
Since I wrote that article, the defending World Champions have handed out the two largest contracts in franchise history. They re-signed Alex Gordon to a four-year, $72 million deal with a mutual option for a fifth year. On Saturday, they reportedly agreed to a five-year, $70 million deal with Ian Kennedy that contains an opt out after 2017.
As a result of these two signings, Kansas City will not have their first selection in the 2016 First-Year Player Draft until the second round, currently standing at 66th overall.
On the surface, the Kennedy signing is a head scratcher. A first-round pick of the Yankees in 2006 out of Southern California, IPK has been up and down throughout his career. His best year was in 2011 with the Diamondbacks when he went 21-4 and finished fourth in the National League Cy Young voting.
The 31-year-old starter has been a fly-ball pitcher throughout his career. He made some mechanical changes while pitching for the San Diego Padres which allowed Kennedy to increase his velocity as well as his strikeout rate over the past two seasons.
Kennedy has started 30 or more games in each of the last six seasons and the Royals are hoping that their spacious outfield and their defense will be able to bring forth Kennedy’s best years. The fit does make sense when you disregard the years and dollars. Because he turned down a qualifying offer from the Padres, Kansas City sacrificed the 24th overall pick in the draft to bring in Kennedy.
Gordon has been the face of the franchise. He debuted in 2007 with lofty expectations of becoming “the next George Brett,” which never came to fruition. But the team shifted him to left field in 2011 where he has made three All-Star appearances and won four gold gloves in five years. It is difficult to envision him wearing another uniform, and it is good for baseball to see players spend their entire career with one team, especially in a small market like Kansas City. After declining a qualifying offer, the Royals were in line for draft pick compensation had Gordon signed elsewhere.
While Gordon is staying put, the team has a long list of free agents after the 2017 season including Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Kendrys Morales, Wade Davis, Edinson Volquez, and Danny Duffy.
If Kennedy pitches like Kansas City hopes he will, then he can also depart in two seasons.
These last two years have been quite the time for Royals fans. The next two years could be more of the same. But after 2017, the majority of this core group that, for the most part, has remained intact since the 70-win seasons will likely head their separate ways. Looking to 2018 and beyond, it may be difficult for Kansas City fans to see these players continue their careers with larger market franchises. Their team will likely regress as a result.
With the farm system not what it once was and the team signing free agents that are costing them draft picks, the Kansas City Royals are all-in for these next two seasons.