Royals Continue Their Strong Offseason, Sign Michael Wacha, Hunter Renfroe

News broke on Friday that the Royals signed outfielder Hunter Renfroe and right-handed pitcher Michael Wacha to two-year contracts. 

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 30: Starting pitcher Michael Wacha #52 of the San Diego Padres throws in the first inning against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on September 30, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

Are the Kansas City Royals going to leave any free agents left for anyone else? News broke today that the Royals have signed both outfielder Hunter Renfroe and right-handed pitcher Michael Wacha to two-year contracts. 

According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, Wacha’s contract will be for two-years, and $32 million plus $500,000 in performance bonuses each year. He gets an opt-out after the first year. Renfroe’s deal is for two years, and $13 million, and he, too, has incentives and an opt-out after the first year. 

There has been a common theme among all the big league contracts the Royals have secured this winter… opt-outs. The team’s willingness to offer multi-year guarantees with opt-outs has shown to pay off, as they’ve secured four big names in the last two days: Seth Lugo, Chris Stratton, Hunter Renfroe, and Michael Wacha.

Renfroe should man right field for the Royals in 2024, moving Nelson Velásquez to a more of a full-time DH role and potentially signalling that they are ready to move on from Edward Olivares. Olivares has struggled defensively in right field and hasn’t hit well enough to justify putting him out there consistently.

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The 2024 outfield is starting to take shape, with MJ Melendez in left, some sort of platoon of Drew Waters and Kyle Isbel (strong side Waters) in center, and Renfroe in right.

Wacha will provide even more depth to a rotation that, as we mentioned yesterday after the Lugo signing, was one of the worst in baseball this past season. Wacha, Lugo, Cole Ragans, Brady Singer, Daniel Lynch, and Jordan Lyles give the Royals way more options going into 2024 and even more depth in 2025 when Kyle Wright and Kris Bubic are expected back. 

In yesterday’s introductory press conference for Lugo, Royals GM J.J. Picollo mentioned they had a goal of signing two starting pitchers, three relievers, a utility player, and one outfield bat. They’ve seemed to accomplish all their goals, except one more reliever, before Christmas:

  • Michael Wacha, SP
  • Seth Lugo, SP
  • Will Smith, RP
  • Chris Stratton, RP 
  • Hunter Renfroe, OF
  • Garrett Hampson, Utility 

Nick Anderson could be that third reliever Picollo mentioned, but it sounded like he was going to try and secure one more arm via free agency. Keep an eye on right-handed reliever Ryan Stanek, as Kansas City has been linked to him a few times. 

The Royals could be mostly done with free agent signings, but some trades and DFAs are likely happening soon. The team hasn’t officially announced the Michael Wacha, Chris Stratton, or Hunter Renfroe signings, and the 40-man roster is currently full. They will need to clear three roster spots in order to make room for these guys. 

It’s been a fun offseason for the Royals and Royals fans. Needless to say, this team hasn’t been so transactional in the past.

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Some are asking why, and it could be for a variety of reasons. The Royals are surely tired of losing, and maybe they want to show Bobby Witt Jr. they are serious about winning when it comes to extension talks. They also want to build a new stadium.

Regardless of the motive, these moves should significantly improve the Royals going into 2024. The narrative all last year was that J.J. Picollo was Dayton Moore 2.0. I think we can very much bury that comparison.