Royals' bullpen could get free-agent boost

Potential loss of DH Morales looms as FA opens Monday

Royals' bullpen could get free-agent boost

KANSAS CITY -- Now that the World Series is over, the Royals can get down to business in formulating plans for their 2017 roster.

Organizational meetings over the past two weeks may have brought general manager Dayton Moore a clearer picture of his budget, and also just how active he'll be in the free-agent market.

Arbitration-eligible: 1B Eric Hosmer, LHP Danny Duffy, RHP Herrera, OF Jarrod Dyson, OF Daniel Nava, LHP Tim Collins, C Tony Cruz.

Potential free agents: RHP Edinson Volquez, Morales, RHP Medlen, RHP Dillon Gee, Moylan.

Biggest potential free-agency loss: Without a doubt, designated hitter Kendrys Morales. The Royals and Morales have an $11 million mutual option, though the Royals under their current regime never have exercised a mutual option. The buyout is $1.5 million. Another option is the qualifying offer, believed to be near $17 million. The risk there is that Morales might take it, and that's a lot of salary to absorb for a team allegedly trying to hold down payroll.

The bottom line is the Royals would love to have Morales back -- they cannot internally replace his power numbers (30 homers in 2016) -- but they would need to do so at a discount. The good news is that most American League teams already have a DH, so the market won't be great for Morales.

Moore talks Royals DH situation

Potential free-agent targets: It's highly unlikely that Moore and his staff will be able to dip into the free-agent market for any big-name players -- they simply don't have the budget. They likely can't even afford Morales. But what Moore and his staff excel at is finding off-the-radar FAs and making them relevant again.

The Royals need to bolster their bullpen, so, for example, guys like Drew Storen or Joe Smith could resurrect their careers in Kansas City. Or Moore simply could re-sign his own guys -- like Peter Moylan, Kris Medlen or Luke Hochevar -- as well as former Royal Greg Holland, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.

Wild-card scenario: There has been some chatter about the Royals possibly dealing closer Wade Davis, some of that spurred on by Moore's comment at the end of the season that he may have to mix things up in terms of the roster. Trading Davis, the team's best reliever, would seem like an odd way to shore up a bullpen, which Moore has said is his top priority.

Then again, if Moore got a ridiculous haul for Davis, one could envision it. Even that, however, would be a gamble because after Davis, Kelvin Herrera and rookie Matt Strahm, manager Ned Yost didn't have any sure things to turn to in the bullpen down the stretch.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.