KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Following World Series runs in back-to-back postseasons, the Kansas City Royals won't be defending their 2015 championship after an 81-81 season ended on Sunday with a 3-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians.
Royals General Manager Dayton Moore addressed the media on Monday morning, saying the club had higher hopes, but there was still some good to be found in a .500 season.
"Obviously we didn't finish the way we wanted to. We entered Spring Training, left Spring Training, we expected to perform much better and it just didn't happen. I think we learned a lot, we learned a lot about our players, we learned a lot about our depth," Moore said.
A rash of injuries to regulars Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Alex Gordon, Wade Davis and Luke Hochevar put the Royals' depth to the test. According to Sportrac, the Royals lost 1,131 days of play for 14 players, which was seventh-worst in Major League Baseball.
Despite bad luck with injuries and a horrendous July where the Royals went 7-19, the team rebounded nicely in August with a 20-9 mark that featured a nine-game winning streak. The team competed for a Wild Card spot up until the middle of September when the Oakland A's swept them at home, effectively ending Kansas City's title defense.
"It's sad that it ended the way it did. Obviously we wish we were still playing, but we've got work to do as every off-season demands. We'll go to work starting tomorrow in Arizona with meetings and try to do the best we can to put a championship team on the field for 2017," Moore said.
The Royals look ahead to 2017 with just under $100 million in payroll obligations already set according to Cot's Baseball Contracts, and it's also the final year before free agency for cornerstone players Eric Hosmer, Cain, Moustakas, and left-handed pitcher Danny Duffy, who emerged as the Royals ace in 2016. Barring more injury problems, the Royals are set to compete again next season, and Moore says his goals remain the same.
"From the first day I took this job we've always tried to put the best team we can on the field each and every night, and we focus on a year at a time. Yeah, we have to have long-range goals and projections, but this game is so unpredictable and it changes minute to minute, and we're going to focus on putting the best team we can on the field in 2017, and get back to playing in October," he said.