Sideline Report: Three needs the Royals have to address at the Winter Meetings

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Braden Shaw, JagWire editor-in-chief

The 2015 season really could not have gone much better for the Royals. A stellar run through the regular season that culminated in the first World Series title since 1985.

But as with every offseason, a team changes due to free agency and players desiring either a new contract or change of scenery. So, to help out general manager Dayton Moore and owner David Glass at this year’s Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tennessee, here are three areas the Royals need to address to be successful in 2016.

Starting Pitching

Overall, the Royals were serviceable last season from a starting pitching standpoint. There was plenty of shakeup on the back half of the rotation, with Danny Duffy, Chris Young, Jeremy Guthrie and Kris Medlen all suffering from inconsistency. Yordano Ventura and Edinson Volquez were solid frontmen and the midseason addition of Johnny Cueto helped a lot when he pitched in Kauffman Stadium — not on the road.

But with Cueto being a free agent that will virtually be impossible to resign, the Royals need to add another quality arm for the front of the rotation. Talks of a Scott Kazmir or a Mike Leake have surfaced to possibly fill this hole for the Royals, with Kazmir being the more likely option.

Re-signing Young helps the latter-half of the rotation and the return of Joakim Soria helps to fill the gap that Ryan Madson left after he left for the Athletics. But for the Royals to make another run at a championship, they need to add another quality arm.

Another bat

Once again, last season was a great year, especially for the Royals’ bats. Designated hitter Kendrys Morales won a silver slugger and Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas all improved from last season.

But this lineup could use another quality hitter to solidify the middle of the order. Free agency will potentially free up spots at second base and at right field and left field. The solution might come from in-house — possibly Christian Colon, Cheslor Cuthbert or Raul Mondesi steps in. I believe a proven veteran would shore up any future offensive woes (i.e., Omar Infante).

Address the Zobrist and Gordon situations

Outside of winning the championship, by far the two biggest storylines were the free agencies of second baseman/outfielder Ben Zobrist and left fielder Alex Gordon. Royals upper management never reached an agreement with Gordon on a new contract and Zobrist’s contract was up at the end of the season after a trade with the Athletics.

To be honest, they’ll both more than likely sign elsewhere. Zobrist has decided to sign with the Cubs on a  four year, $56 million deal, which now takes one of the most coveted free agents off the market.

Gordon on the other hand has been relatively quiet on the free agent market. His name has been thrown around as one of the top players out there, but no deal has been reached with any club. The Royals may make a play to resign him, but once again the asking price might just be too high.

With both of these amazing players, money is the issue. So, the next step is finding a replacement should both these players walk. The Brewers’ Gerardo Parra has been listed as a potential suitor to the Royals’ outfield needs, but I’m not sure if he would be a worthy replacement for the four-time Gold Glove winner Gordon.

Hopefully, all of these needs are addressed as the Winter Meetings between GMs and owners throughout MLB convene with trade talks and free agent signings. I trust Moore and his staff, and hopefully the Royals come out as a better team thanks to some savvy spending.

Junior Braden Shaw is a passionate sports fan who follows sports at both the college and professional level. He loves to defend his unpopular opinions on the University of Nebraska, Sporting KC, Chiefs and Royals and is always up for a debate over any game or team.

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