3.) Kansas City Royals
It may seem a little strange to see the defending World Series Champions on this list. But, the champs have a number of questions to answer this offseason, and have seemingly taken no steps towards solving those issues. The only significant move that Kansas City has made, was to replace the injured Greg Holland. They did so, by bringing back former closer Joakim Soria. However, they face bigger issues, including the potential departures of outfielder Alex Gordon and staff “ace” Johnny Cueto. The Royals have already lost Ben Zobrist to the Cubs, so that has created a vacancy in the Royals infield. If they proceed to lose both Gordon and Cueto, it’ll be very difficult for them to even consider a repeat as World Champions. With Jarrod Dyson expected to receive a full-time role next season, common sense would suggest that Kansas City has already moved on from Alex Gordon.
Johnny Cueto was a pivotal piece in Kansas City’s World Series run. While he was only viewed as a rental, the pending loss of Cueto will still hurt the Royals. Beyond Cueto, the Royals staff consisted of Edinson Volquez, Yordano Ventura, Chris Young, and Jeremy Guthrie. In addition to the eventual departure of Cueto, the Royals are also currently without Jeremy Guthrie, who like Cueto, is a free agent.
The vacancy left behind by Zobrist will be a tough one to fill, due to his versatility. His ability to play practically any position except catcher is an extremely rare quality, and one that Kansas City will surely miss. The 34 year-old signed a four-year contract with the Chicago Cubs earlier this week.
While Kansas City is still obviously the favorite in the AL Central, the gap between them and the rest of the field has shrunk.