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But change is coming. We saw that when the Royals let go pitching coach Dave Eiland and bench coach Don Wakamatsu a day after the season ended. And even Moore admits he's not sure how many of his pending free agents, which including Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, Jason Vargas, Melky Cabrera and Mike Minor (mutual option), he can keep.
Answer: It's a legitimate question, especially if they lose Hosmer. Salvador Perez's transition to first base likely will happen someday, but as a perennial Gold Glove winner and arguably the best defensive catcher in the league, Perez is too valuable behind the plate right now. This will be especially true if the pitching staff, as expected, gets younger during the next two years.
Answer: Probably not anyone who is ready by 2018. But the Royals do love the rapid progress of left-handed prospect Richard Lovelady (Royals' No. 24 prospect, per MLB Pipeline). Lovelady had a combined 1.62 ERA in 42 relief appearances between Class A and Double-A in 2017. He's got a plus-plus fastball and good breaking stuff. The best solution for the closer's role would be re-signing Minor, who was 6-for-6 in save chances when he got the role in mid-September. Funny how the entire back of the bullpen fell into place once Minor took over the closer's role. The problem is, every scout in baseball saw the same thing we did with Minor, and he will get paid.
Answer: Excellent question. Moore already has hinted he wants the 2018 roster to be younger and more athletic. That would make the case for keeping Terrance Gore on the 25-man roster rather than trading him. You can expect speedsters Paulo Orlando and Raul Mondesi on the roster as well. The Gore issue comes down to this: Do the Royals believe he can be anything more than a pinch-runner? (He did have a .321 OBP in Triple-A last year.) We'll find out next spring.
Answer: There is no way to get out of the contracts, unless the players are traded, and even then the Royals would be asked to pay a majority of the finances. But several coaches, scouts and front-office folks believe Ian Kennedy will bounce back in 2018, and be more like the pitcher he was in his first year with the Royals (3.68 ERA, 195 2/3 innings). The thinking there is Kennedy never got over his hamstring pull early in the season and he is a leg-drive pitcher, so the injury hampered his season. As for Alex Gordon, manager Ned Yost loved what he saw from Gordon during a 20-game stretch in September when Gordon hit .317 with a .990 OPS (five doubles, four homers). Gordon began consciously driving the ball the opposite way then -- perhaps he'll do a Moustakas-type swing makeover this offseason.
Answer: Two at the most, I would think. As I have said since Spring Training, they will throw everything they got at keeping Hosmer because he is the perfect teammate, an ascending player, great in the community, and the ideal leader for the upcoming mini-rebuild. I think they have to try and keep Minor as well.
Answer: We all have heard the rumors of Atlanta's interest in Moore. It seems unlikely that he would leave mainly because of his loyalty to David Glass and the people around him. But you can't read people's minds. He will do what's best for his family. And if he were to go, he would leave the Royals in better shape than he found them.