So it’s official, David Glass will no longer be the owner of the Kansas City Royals after being the CEO and Chairman of the Royals since 1993. In steps Kansas City businessman John Sherman, a former minority owner in the Cleveland Indians, who bought the Royals in a $1 billion deal (Glass bought the team originally for $96 million). The move is not really surprising (Glass’ health had been declining, and after the 2015 Royals championship, it seemed predictable he would cash in on the club once they fell back to earth), though the timing certainly is (in late August during another possible 100-loss season). But thankfully for Royals fans, in this day and age of ownership groups that hold cities hostage in order to get ballparks built with taxpayer movie (i.e. “either pay or we’ll move!” strategy), it seems like the Royals will be in Kansas City for the long haul since Sherman is a KC-native (though there is some debate about a possible downtown stadium move with the new ownership group).
Furthermore, another positive for the Royals is that Sherman is coming from a winning organization with the Indians, who seemed destined again for the playoffs and could compete for an American League Pennant. Sherman didn’t pay $1 billion for this club to see it lose another 100 games in 2020 and beyond. In fact, Sherman had this to say on the announcement of the sale:
“Our goal will be threefold: to compete for a championship on behalf of our fans; to honor their passion, their experience and their unwavering commitment; and to carry their hopes and dreams forward in this great Kansas City region we all love — for decades to come.”-John Sherman
Sherman seems determined to make Kansas City a persistent contender in the American League Central, similar to what the Indians have done in Cleveland over the past half-decade. And thus, the big question is this: how patient will Sherman be with general manger Dayton Moore, who even though produced pennants in 2014 and 2015, has failed to keep this club relevant in the past couple of years.
Some people may argue that Moore and manager Ned Yost should be canned immediately after the season, as a new ownership should want to start from scratch with new guys in management. That thinking would be understandable: the Royals have failed to be relevant at the Major League level this year, and Moore and Yost have made their fair share of head-scratching decisions both in the front office and on the field, respectively. However, Moore (and consequently Yost, who’s Moore’s guy), will at least get one more year to prove himself to the new ownership group and here’s the primary reason why:
The 2018 draft class.
The Royals pitching has been astronomically awful this year. The Royals are posting the fourth-worst ERA in baseball, and are 25th overall in terms of WAR. It’s been a hurricane of sorts when it comes to problems with the Royals pitching overall: Danny Duffy has struggled to stay healthy, the starting staff struggles to keep the ball in the yard, the bullpen (sans brief glimpses from Ian Kennedy) has been a hot mess, and the jury is still out in terms of whether the Royals can build a staff around Brad Keller, a sinker-ball pitcher, and make him the ace of the rotation.
However, the one thing that Moore got right since 2015 was the draft class of 2018, which focused on drafting polished college arms. This includes Brady Singer, arguably the top prospect in the Royals system, Daniel Lynch, Jackson Kowar, and Kris Bubic, who have all experienced serious success in the minors, and are expected to debut at some point next season. Moore has made plenty of mistakes, but it appears that the pitchers selected in 2018 were far from one, and should be a primary reason why Moore should keep his job next season as the Royals general manager.
That being said, how the Royals young aces transition to the Major League will most likely make or break Moore’s tenure going forward, and that’s why while his job security is safe for now, he will be on a hot seat of sorts. Yes, a lot of his job security will hinge on how younger position players like outfielder Bubba Starling and Brett Phillips as well as infielders Nicky Lopez and Ryan O’Hearn pan out. But the main focus will be on Singer, who has the potential to be a true ace for this Royals rotation for years to come.
And that’s where the pressure will be on Moore: Dayton doesn’t have the best history when it come to developing aces organically in the system.
Duffy has been a mixed bag. Yordano Ventura could have been, but we’ll never know after his untimely death. Mike Montgomery is having a career resurgence now, but he was once the club’s top prospect not too long ago, and he looks like an end of the rotation guy at best next season. And Aaron Crow and Brandon Finnegan? Former top picks? Well…google them and see what they are up to.
The jury is still out on whether Moore can transition Royals pitchers from the minors to the majors and help them experience consistent success. It will be interesting to see if Moore changes it up this off-season, and perhaps get rid of Cal Eldred as pitching coach, in a last-ditch effort to better his chances of Singer and co. succeeding at the Major League level in 2020. The young arms that have shined in the Royals system need to contribute to the big league club in 2020, especially Singer, who doesn’t have much else to prove in the minors after posting a 7-3 record and 3.47 ERA in 16 starts in the hitter-friendly Texas League.
If the Royals pitching prospects live up to the hype, an extension could be on the way after 2020. However, if they fail to live up to expectations and contribute to the Royals next year, it won’t be surprising to see Sherman move sooner rather than later in terms of changing things up in management as Royals owner.