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10.04.2019 07:49
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KANSAS CITY Anthony Rizzo Jersey , Mo. (AP) — The arc of the Kansas City Royals last season tracked closely to that of Adalberto Mondesi, one of their most touted prospects in years and quite possibly the future of the organization.After shuttling back and forth between the Royals and the minors the previous two seasons, the talented shortstop failed to make the club out of spring training. Once he arrived midway through the year, he went through another month of brutal growing pains.Then something suddenly clicked, and Mondesi went on a tear the final three months of the season, becoming one of the hottest players in the American League.The Royals, who until then were scuffling toward 100-plus losses, likewise caught fire.The club jettisoned many of its aging veterans and plugged in guys like Mondesi, up-and-coming prospects with bright futures. The result was more wins than losses down the stretch, and just as with Mondesi, a very real sense of optimism about what this year could hold.“I was so enthused with the progress we made in the last half of the season last year, how well these kids played,” manager Ned Yost said. “All the hard work they put in every single day when nobody was looking, it finally started to pay off for them the last six weeks. I just think we continue to pick up where we left off. Where we left off is OK.”The Royals are far from a finished project, of course. They have questions just about everywhere on the roster, including the starting rotation and bullpen. Pitchers and catchers report Feb. 12 in Surprise http://www.chicagocubsteamshop.com/authentic-david-ross-jersey , Arizona, and position players join them a few days later.NEW LOOKThe Royals added speed, speed, speed with INF-OF Chris Owings and OF Billy Hamilton joining the fold. Hamilton, Mondesi and Whit Merrifield give them three of MLB’s top eight base-stealers last season.“Power is always an important part of the game. I don’t think with our ballpark and our style of play, that we can live on that,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. “We need a balanced team.”ROOKIES TO WATCHRHP Josh Staumont, a second-round pick in 2015, and LHP Richard Lovelady, a 10th-round selection in 2016, appear poised to break through. Staumont had a 3.51 ERA with an excellent strikeout rate at Triple-A Omaha last season, while Lovelady carried a 2.47 ERA at Omaha and could join his fellow prospect in forming the foundation of a formidable bullpen.THEY”RE SETThe Royals are solid up the middle, where Mondesi is entrenched at shortstop and the Royals recently gave second baseman Merrifield a $16.25 million, four-year contract. Salvador Perez isn’t going anywhere behind the plate.“I love Kansas City. I love playing here. It’s where I want to be,” Merrifield said. “This is the organization I’ve been with my whole career. They gave me the opportunity to play in the big leagues.”THEY’RE NOTThere is experience in the rotation with LHP Danny Duffy, RHP Brad Keller Andre Dawson Jersey , RHP Jakob Junis and RHP Ian Kennedy at the front end, but none of them is necessarily entrenched in their spots. The bullpen is total question mark, though, with perhaps the exception of Wily Peralta at the back end.“Last year, no one really knew what roles they were going to fill,” Keller said. “Now we kind of have roles. I think we’ll be more together and ready to roll early.”ON DECKStyle and substance are the two biggest reasons to watch the Royals ahead of their season opener March 28 against the White Sox. The style part is that Kansas City will likely play an entertaining style predicated on speed and daring, while the substance part of it involves seeing whether a young group of prospects can continue to develop into big leaguers. Ralph Freso/Getty ImagesThe 2018 World Series begins Tuesday night, as the Boston Red Sox welcome the Los Angeles Dodgers to Fenway Park for what promises to be another thrilling Fall Classic.While the baseball world's collective focus is on that best-of-seven series, we're not too far removed from the start of the MLB offseason and the whirlwind of rumors and activity that another round of free agency brings.Ahead is a quick look at some of the latest notable rumors surrounding some key names from the upcoming free-agent class.Philadelphia Phillies the front-runner for Manny Machado?Manny MachadoJonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesManny Machado has gone full heel this MLB postseason.From his comments on how hustling is "not my cup of tea" to his kicking of Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar's foot at first base that led NL MVP front-runner Christian Yelich to call him a "dirty player," it's been an eventful couple of weeks for the free-agent-to-be.In fact, it was enough forJon Heyman of FanCred to raise the question in a recent headline: "Has Machado cost himself with his actions and words?"Many expect Machado to take home a payday in excess of $300 million, including Heyman, though at least one rival executive seems to think only one team will be willing to approach that figure."The guess here is that he still gets the monster deal in the $300 million range because talent talks," wrote Heyman, "though one rival exec says his guess is that maybe 'no one but Philly' may be willing to go there now."The Phillies have long been viewed as a potential landing spot for one or both of Machado and Bryce Harper. As they look to keep pace with the Atlanta Braves and take the next step in their rebuilding process, it makes sense that they'd still be willing to break the bank to add a superstar-caliber player.To his credit Ron Santo Jersey , Machado has still been plenty productive this October amid the controversy, posting an .813 OPS with two doubles, three home runs and nine RBI in 11 games.Prediction:Machado finds multiple teams willing to pay $300-plus million and eventually signs with the Los Angeles Angels.Patrick Corbin market taking shape?Patrick CorbinDenis Poroy/Getty ImagesPatrick Corbin picked the perfect time for a career year.In a thin market for impact starting pitching, the left-hander has positioned himself for a major payday after going 11-7 with a 3.15 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 246 strikeouts 200 innings.The 29-year-old has already been a popular speculative target of the New York Yankees, but Nick Cafardo of theBoston Globe recentlyoffered up a more comprehensive list of potential suitors:"Considered the most sought-after pitcher on the market this winter. Corbin will have his pick, but it likely won in Arizona, which is looking to strip payroll and start rebuilding. Corbin is expected to draw a lot of interest from the Yankees, Dodgers, Giants, and Braves. The deal likely could be at least five years in the $20 million-$25 million range."We've already mentioned the Yankees, and the Braves also look like an excellent fit as they look for another experienced arm to slot alongside Mike Foltynewicz and Kevin Gausman. The Dodgers also make sense, regardless of what happens with Clayton Kershaw and his opt-out clause.On the other hand, the Giants are a bit of a head-scratcher. The last thing that team needs is another pricey long-term contract on the books, and there's a good chance San Francisco will be rebuilding rather than making a splash in free agency.As the top arm available, it might take Corbin making a free-agency decision to kick the rest of the starting pitching market into gear this winter. As such http://www.chicagocubsteamshop.com/authentic-david-ross-jersey , expect to hear his name early and often on the rumor mill. Nathan Eovaldi to exceed four years and $43 million?Nathan EovaldiElsa/Getty ImagesA strong argument can be made that no player has done more to increase his free-agent stock this season than Nathan Eovaldi.The 28-year-old missed the entire 2017 campaign recovering from Tommy John surgery, but he has returned strong this season with the Tampa Bay Rays to emerge as one of the most coveted arms at the trade deadline.The Boston Red Sox acquired him July 25, and he went on to post a 3.33 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 48 strikeouts in 54 innings in 11 starts and one relief appearance during the regular season. He's been even better this October:ALDS Game 3:W, 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 KALCS Game 3:W, 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 KALCS Game 5:HLD, 1.1 IP, 1 H Ryne Sandberg Jersey , 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 KHe'll have at least one World Series start to further boost his stock, but there's already a strong belief in the industry that he's going to cash in this winter, asCafardowrote:"Most executives think a comparable isAlex Cobb, who also came back from Tommy John and landed a four-year, $57 million deal with Baltimore last offseason. Eovaldi's pedigree exceeds Cobb's at this point, so his contract should be more lucrative."The fact that he's still just 28 is also a chip in his favor, considering a starting pitcher market that includes Corbin (29), Dallas Keuchel (30), Wade Miley (31), Gio Gonzalez (33), Charlie Morton (34) and J.A. Happ (36).The bigger question now might be how aggressively the Red Sox push to retain him.All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted.




       
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