(AP) – Kansas City Royals

2020: 26-34, fourth place.

Manager: Mike Matheny (second season).

He’s Here: LHP Mike Minor, 1B/DH Carlos Santana, OF Andrew Benintendi, RHP Wade Davis, RHP Ervin Santana, CF Michael A. Taylor, RHP Carlos Sanabria, 2B Hanser Alberto.

He’s Outta Here: LF Alex Gordon, OF Franchy Cordero, RHP Ian Kennedy, 3B Maikel Franco, RHP Glenn Sparkman, RHP Matt Harvey.

Projected Lineup: RF Whit Merrifield (.282, 9 HRs, 30 RBIs, 12 SBs), SS Adalberto Mondesi (.256, 6, 22, 24 SBs), C Salvador Perez (.333, 11, 32), DH Jorge Soler (.228, 8, 24), 1B Carlos Santana (.199, 8, 30, 47 BBs with Indians), 3B Hunter Dozier (.228, 6, 12), LF Andrew Benintendi (.103, 0, 1 in 14 games with Red Sox), CF Michael Taylor (.196, 5, 16 with Washington), 2B Nicky Lopez (.201, 1, 13).

Rotation: RH Brad Keller (5-3, 2.47 ERA), LH Danny Duffy (4-4, 4.95), LH Mike Minor (1-6, 5.56 with Rangers and Athletics), RH Brady Singer (4-5, 4.06), LH Kris Bubic (1-6, 4.32).

Key Relievers: RH Josh Staumont (2-1, 2.45), RH Scott Barlow (2-1, 4.20), RH Tyler Zuber (1-2, 4.09), LH Jakob Junis (0-2, 6.39), RH Greg Holland (3-0, 1.91, 6 saves), RH Kyle Zimmer (1-0, 1.57), RH Wade Davis (0-1, 20.77 with Rockies).

Outlook: The first wave of college arms that the Royals drafted a few years ago started to arrive last season with Singer and Bubic showing promise in the rotation. They could soon be joined by LHP Asa Lacy, the No. 4 overall pick last summer, and fellow first-rounders LHP Daniel Lynch and RHP Jackson Kowar. If all those youngsters are able to show progress on the mound, the Royals could return to .500 and perhaps compete for a playoff spot given the investment GM Dayton Moore made in the rest of the roster. He signed Santana, a longtime AL Central nemesis, to handle first base, and swung a three-team trade for Benintendi. Throw in the signings of veteran pitchers Minor and Davis, and the Royals are deeper and more talented than they have been at any point since going to back-to-back World Series in 2014 and ’15 and beating the New York Mets in 2015 to win their second championship.

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