Royals GM Dayton Moore says that the team’s payroll will be re-evaluated this offseason and possibly “regress,” according to Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star.
According to the same article, Moore said that the payroll was put together with the postseason in mind. The reigning 2015 World Series champions missed the postseason all together this year, finishing third in the AL Central. “Moore cautioned that the club could face financial restrictions that could shape its offseason strategy,” the article states.
With a literally middling team—the Royals finished 2016 with an 81-81 record and a .500 win percentage—the team began the year with a $131,487,125 budget, up from $112,857,025 on Opening Day in 2015. This is a drastic change from a few years ago when, in 2011, their Opening Day budget was a mere $38,176,000.
Dodd’s article quotes Moore saying that the team will look internally and in trades to upgrade the team, which could reduce payroll a bit. But the team also still has Omar Infante’s buyout on the books. Alex Gordon stands to make the most next season, earning $16M, with Ian Kennedy’s paycheck—worth $13.5M—coming in second.
Players like Edinson Volquez, Kendrys Morales, and Wade Davis have options for 2017, but there’s been no word on whether or not the Royals would exercise those options or let them walk.
There is also the fact that the trade market remains to be seen in this offseason, leading to the possibility that the Royals may have no choice but to exercise some options or bring back a couple of free agents.
The farm system isn’t necessarily stacked with prospects, either, which means that if they look internally, they might end up with a couple of Triple-A veterans to fill in the gaps here and there. It wouldn’t be the best result for the team, but it’s an option they have.
It’s not impossible for the Royals to cut payroll down, but they’d have to cut a lot of corners to do so.