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So this is what the window looks like? A look at the 2015 Kansas City Royals

Next man up. You hear that term more often referred to [?]

Photo: David Eulitt/Getty Images

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Next man up. You hear that term more often referred to in the injury prone NFL universe, but it will soon be the mantra by which the Kansas City Royals have to live by if they want to tread water, let alone become and remain relevant near the top of the standings.

This was originally supposed to be a “How the Royals Can Re-Sign James Shields” piece (which just in good fun, I will still touch upon at the end). However, after just the preliminary research, it became painfully clear that 2014 was the window for this particular crop of boys in blue. 2015 will be the true “next man up” testament as to how far the organization has come as a whole in the Dayton Moore era.

Thirteen current Kansas City Royals will be eligible for arbitration in 2015. Thirteen! Over half the roster. The total salary of those 13 players in 2014 is $16,810,750, the largest chunks going to Holland ($4,675,000) and Hosmer ($3,600,000).

Of those thirteen, eight are currently making within $300,000 of the major league minimum, meaning they are in line for fairly hefty pay raises. Holland and Hosmer, both on the verge of becoming elite at their positions, should see their salaries jump substantially. The other three big pieces of that pie (Maxwell – $1,325,000, Collins – $1,362,500, Crow – $1,475,000) are performing at a level that would indicate they should receive increases as well. Okay, maybe not Maxwell, but SOMEONE has to play right field for the Royals in 2015. We’ll explore that a little bit later.

Predicting future arbitration numbers is a pretty daunting task, especially for someone like me who has a day job, a life, and no real experience with the ins and outs of the system. Therefore, without a full season’s worth of statistics to analyze, all of my projections have been dumbed down to an “Idiot’s Guide to MLB Arbitration” level. I took the results of the 2013 and 2014 arbitration process and eyeballed each of the 13 Royals into those numbers. I compared based upon what other similar players received (everyday vs bench players and WAR mostly, with a slant towards offensive numbers). Admittedly, this exercise is very rudimentary and far from scientifically perfect, but it gives us at least a ballpark idea of what we’re looking at.

Here is the breakdown: pays final

As we can see, the Royals are currently on the hook for $46,500,000 worth of payroll for the 2015 season (for 8 players: Perez, Infante, Escobar, Gordon, Vargas, Guthrie, Chen, and Davis). In addition, they have a $12,500,000 club option for Billy Butler. Given his one dimensional skill set and poor performance so far in 2014, I predict there is no way they will pick up that option.

However, let’s initially assume they do. That brings us to 9 players at $59,000,000. If the 13 arbitration players make what I (probably very poorly) predict that they will, it totals to a staggering $28,950,000. Factor in Yordano Ventura’s projected $510,000 (which could very easily end up higher if the Royals feel the need to reward him), this brings our total payroll up to $88,460,000.

That is 88.5 million, and does not include a starting right fielder (Aoki is only under contract through 2014) or the starting pitcher spot currently being held by Shields. Most reports would tell you that Moore had to sell his soul to the Glass family to push the payroll up to 90 million this year. It is very unrealistic it will be allowed to stay that high, especially if the team fails to make the playoffs.

So what does this mean exactly? It means Billy Butler’s tenure as a Royal ends this year. Billy will turn 29 during spring training next year. He may only have one skill, but when he is right, that is a powerful and desired tool. Someone will pay him 10-12 million per year this off-season. It will not be the Royals.

Ned Yost, Billy Butler, Jordan Baker

It means the end for Hayes, Valencia, Maxwell, and Dyson as well. All will be arbitration eligible and predict to make 1 to 1.5 million. A defensive backup catcher and a utility infielder can be pulled from the minors for the major league minimum. However, as I referenced earlier, there is no starting right fielder under contract for 2015. The Royals may be able to resign Aoki if they want to, probably even in the same neighborhood as they are paying him now (2-3 million per year). I suppose Maxwell or Dyson could get the nod as well, but the organization doesn’t see either as an everyday player. I envision all 3 in different uniforms come spring training next year.

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Published with permission from RoyalsBlue.com.

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