It happens often in MLB – a team blows away the opposition, coasts to a World Series win and then disappears the next season. The 2015 Royals were a unique club, and their championship run more or less avenged their frustrations of coming up agonizingly short in 2014. So what’s next for 2016? Ned Yost’s team will have to find a way to stay just as hungry and aggressive as ever if they want to continue to assert their dominance in the AL.
APFrank Franklin II
Gordon or otherwise, make LF a strength
Whether the Royals retain Alex Gordon or have to find a new left fielder, they’ll have a big decision to make soon. If Gordon departs for greener pastures elsewhere, the Royals have in-house options available…but they could monitor the trade market as the offseason progresses and Opening Day nears in hopes of finding another impact bat and plus-defender to man the corner spot.
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Tweak the starting rotation – or don’t
Few clubs make much noise in the postseason without a dominant rotation (or an ‘ace’ and a reliable No. 2), but the Royals enjoyed stellar pitching performances in October from midseason acquisition Johnny Cueto (who struggled for much of the summer) and Chris Young (who was an afterthought). Looking ahead to 2016, their rotation again has some question marks, one of which concerns Yordano Ventura and how he may (or may not) look with another rigorous season of pitching under his belt.
Keep up the good vibes
The Royals erased the frustrations of the past decade (or two) with their recent flurry of success, and it’ll be important to keep that energy up within the community. GM Dayton Moore and owner David Glass, once much-maligned figures in those parts, finally saw their work pay off in 2014 and 2015. Can the Royals keep all of this momentum around? It’s clearly transformed Kauffman Stadium into THE place to be lately, which has made for quite a majestic scene on television.
Decision time with Infante
K.C. would love to shed themselves of Omar Infante’s spot on the roster…they’ll just likely have to pay most of the roughly $16 million owed to the 34-year-old over the next two seasons in order to make it happen. If he stays healthy, he could be a serviceable option for a club desirous of a veteran infielder of his type…but that ‘if he stays healthy’ part is the key. On the flip side, the Royals could keep him around and let him be a veteran mentor to some of their young players.
Make it back to October
The AL Central is probably just as ripe for the taking in 2016 as it was in 2015, though teams like the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians are definitely on the rise. That said, if the Royals can fend them all off again and make it back to the postseason, watch out. We already know what they can do, as they’ve done it for the past two Octobers with relative ease.