The Kansas City Royals are putting the finishing touches on a third consecutive losing season. It's unclear when they'll return to contention. Heck, it's unclear what the Royals will look like in six months' time. That's because this week news broke that David Glass to John Sherman, the vice president of the Cleveland franchise.
What the new ownership will mean for manager Ned Yost and general manager Dayton Moore is anyone's guess. But even if Yost and Moore return, this is a team that has a lot of questions facing it -- both in the short and long runs. How will Salvador Perez look after missing the season? Can the Royals develop enough of their pitching prospects to be more than an afterthought? And so on. Even the best players on Kansas City's roster offer some reason for trepidation.
With so much up in the air, we're not going to waste our time with a deep roster analysis. Rather, we're going to keep it simple and focus on our three most pressing questions that touch on the best players on the roster.
Can Mondesi regain star status?
This time last year, Adalberto Mondesi looked like the next big thing in Kansas City. Now? He's coming off a disappointing, injury-shortened season. He still showed off good wheels and above-average defense, yet his power numbers regressed and his strikeout rate increased. Those aforementioned secondary skills give him a wide berth, and he'll remain at least a league-average player provided he hits some. But he'll also turn 25 next year and if he's going to become a constant star then it's about time to take that next step and stay there.
Is Dozier legit?
Hunter Dozier, Mondesi's partner on the left side of the infield, took a step forward of his own. Dozier entered the season with almost zero success at the big-league level. Coming into Friday, he'd homered 23 times on the year and had improved in almost every meaningful way -- walk rate, strikeout rate, power production, contact chops, and so on. Those would seem to be good signs, and point to a true shift in talent level rather than an aberration. If Dozier can maintain his gains -- at least most of them -- and Mondesi can get back a little of his 2018 magic, the Royals could have one of the better left sides of the infield in the American League.
Will the Royals deal Merrifield, Soler?
Expect to hear Whit Merrifield and Jorge Soler mentioned a lot in trade rumors. Merrifield's story is common knowledge: His combination of production, versatility, and cheapness makes him almost impossible to trade for equal value. Soler, meanwhile, offers a capable right-handed stick and an incapable glove. That's the exact kind of player teams don't seem willing to pay for anymore, either with dollars or prospects. Will the Royals shop either or both of them? Will anyone pony up and make a deal?
Again, these are the four best players on the roster (you can make an argument for Brad Keller if you're a true believer in his contact suppression skills), and each of them has a decent-sized question mark attached to their outlook for next season. That's not a great sign, but it's the reality of the Royals' situation. Perhaps that's fitting for a team that -- once so stable in personnel -- could be about to undergo a makeover from the top down.