It’s hard to believe that it’s only been a week since the Kansas City Royals season ended and fans have been able to completely move on to football season.
Usually, the Royals are so dismal that fans shift their focus to the gridiron in early August, when training camp for both the NFL and college football is starting up. But the football season was nearly a quarter over while the Royals were still competing for a playoff berth.
In the end, Kansas City finished with an 86-74 record, the best for the franchise in 24 years. But if the Royals want to continue to improve and take that next step to the playoffs in 2014, there are a few in-house issues that must be addressed this offseason.
The first one was actually resolved quickly as general manager Dayton Moore signed manager Ned Yost to a two-year contract extension. When you coach a team to its best season in nearly a quarter-century, you deserve to hang around a while longer.
Secondly, the Royals must secure long-term deals with first baseman Eric Hosmer and starting pitcher James Shields.
Eric Hosmer is eligible for arbitration this season. He’ll later be eligible for free agency in 2017. Hosmer hit .302 this season with 17 home runs and is also a terrific athlete, especially for a first baseman.
The Royals can’t afford to let him slip by the wayside. Securing a long-term contract with him now will help provide stability for the team.
Shields though is more of an immediate concern for the Royals. The ace has just one year left on his contract before he hits the free agent market at the end of the 2014 season.
According to a report by FOX Sports, Shields expressed his interest to stay in Kansas City for the long haul.
“I think it’s a great city,” Shields said in the report. “I’ve known a lot of players who have come to Kansas City and then wound up making Kansas City their home. And it’s a good family environment around here and they really love their baseball. It’s a good wholesome town.”
Shields was a lights-out pitcher for the Royals. He was the type of guy Kansas City was looking for after a 2012 season that featured dismal pitching.
He went 13-9 this season on the mound with a 3.15 ERA, and was first in the entire MLB with 27 quality starts.
If the Royals can lockup one of the league’s best pitchers and keep him in Kansas City, that will give fans some decent hope that the Royals want to develop the squad they have now rather than settle for one good season.
Overall, the Royals are finally on the right track after years and years of fans watching a losing team. But for the Royals to stay the course, the front office has to address those in-house issues now rather than later.