Story by Tyrone Ritter
Kansas City Royals fans have been waiting since 1985 to celebrate a playoff appearance. 2014 could be the year the Royals breakthrough. This year’s edition of the Royals will be under pressure to perform at a higher level than they did last season.
Kansas City finished over .500 for the first time in 10 years. Royals General Manager Dayton Moore indicated the club’s payroll should surpass $90 million in 2014, about a $9 million increase from last season’s record-breaking Opening Day amount and a sum that exceeded their budget for this season.
“Hopefully, we have a great year, and we’re able to create a lot of interest with this team, and people show up at the ballpark. And hopefully the gamble pays off economically,” Moore said in a story in the Kansas City Star.
Kansas City spent most of its money this off-season on two new additions, second baseman Omar Infante and starting pitcher Jason Vargas. Infante could prove to be the biggest pick-up of the off-season. They Royals signed him to a four-year contract worth $30.25 million. Infante hit 10 home runs and batted .318 with only 44 strikeouts, according to Baseballreference.com. The production the Royals received from the six different second basemen they used last season doesn’t equal what Infante did. The Royals second basemen combined to hit only four home runs and they had a .243 batting average. Infante also has played on playoff teams. Last season, Infante played for Detroit and before that he was with the Atlanta Braves. The Royals made the trade last season for veteran James Shields and a big reason they wanted him was because he was a proven winner. Infante is in that same mold.
Another move that should make the Royals contenders throughout the season is the trade of pitcher Will Smith to the Milwaukee Brewers for right fielder Norichika Aoki. Aoki is in the last year of his contract and is set to make $1.25 million this season, according to MLB.com. Aoki will bat lead-off for Kansas City. The addition of Aoki helps set the Royals line up so that Alex Gordon is allowed to more down in the order to fulfill more of a RBI role.
Kansas City hopes these moves, along with the already stable core of players they have, will get them into the postseason. If the gamble pays off, the money they spent will be worth it.