Boston Red Sox can follow blueprint of Kansas City Royals


As the offseason begins to ramp up, all eyes will be on what the Boston Red Sox will do to fix their woeful pitching staff. The quick fix would be to open up their wallets and splurge on the free agent market, where several top of the rotation options are expected to be available, but flashy free agent signings may end up winning more headlines than actual games.

This is a copy cat league, so the success of the Kansas City Royals will have teams thinking differently about how to construct a championship caliber team. The World Series champs have unveiled a blueprint for success that doesn’t involve spending top dollar on the free agent market. The Royals ascended to the top by relying on an emerging core of homegrown players, a strong bullpen and bolstering their depth with savvy mid-tier free agent signings.

You know, essentially what the 2013 Red Sox did. Two years ago the Red Sox bypassed the big names in free agency, only to strike gold in the mid-market with the likes of Koji Uehara, Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli. Each of them played a vital role in bringing home a championship that year at a fraction of the price that it would have cost to chase the stars at the top of the market. Boston spread the wealth around, resulting in a deeper roster that added players with a variety of different attributes.

More from Red Sox News

That team also valued chemistry, targeting players that would have a positive influence in the clubhouse, which they were able to carry with them on to the field because they had a blast playing together. That team played for each other, not for themselves. Over the last two years the front office seems to have forgotten that, but the Royals have picked up where they left off.

As Joel Sherman of the New York Post points outs, the Royals spent a mere $38.875 million last winter to land Alex Rios, Edinson Volquez, Kendrys Morales, Luke Hochevar, Kris Medlen, Franklin Morales, Ryan Madson and Chris Young. Not all of those signings worked out as well as they planned, but they also found some tremendous value by scourging through the bargain bin. Morales led the team in home runs and RBI, while Young and Volquez ended up being their two best starting pitchers.

When the Royals felt they needed an ace in their rotation they swung a mid-season trade to acquire one. Johnny Cueto failed to live up to expectations, but he still came through when it mattered most on the big stage. The Red Sox have the assets to deal for a starting pitcher without having to hand out a lucrative contract to one of the top free agents. They can find their Cueto without spending the big bucks to sign the actual Johnny Cueto, which leaves them room to spend more on other areas of the roster.

More from BoSox Injection

As our own Brandon Nickel discussed this morning, the Royals starting rotation wasn’t drastically better than Boston’s this season, but their league best bullpen made up for it. The Red Sox ranked 13th in the league in bullpen ERA, so whether it be through free agency or by making trades, bolstering the bullpen should be the top priority.

The Red Sox could spend $25+ million per year on an ace like Cueto, David Price or Zack Greinke. Or they could follow the Royals’ lead and spend that money on several quality relievers instead. Kansas City just showed us the importance of depth and a dominant bullpen. The Red Sox have more financial resources, but spending money isn’t the problem, it’s how they spend it.

Boston’s front office will be busy making moves this winter, but they won’t necessarily be grabbing headlines with splashy names. The tried that last year, but look where that got them. You might say they are coping the blueprint that the Royals provided, but really they would simply be getting back to what worked for them two years ago.