2011 Organization Rankings: #25 Kansas City

The minor league talent may be impressive, but deficiencies in every other category put the Royals near the bottom of the list once again.

Present Talent – 65.00 (30th)

Royals Season Preview

Future Talent – 95.00 (1st)

Royals Top 10 Prospects

Financial Resources – 71.00 (25th)
Baseball Operations – 75.00 (25th)

Overall Rating – 73.80 (25th)

Despite a bundle of prospects that rank among the best ever; the Royals’ failures at the major league level, combined with the uncertainties surrounding their financial flexibility have led to another poor showing in the Organization Rankings. While their talented prospects certainly make the Royals a team on the rise, the eventual promotion of those prospects will have a major impact on each aspect of the Royals’ organization.

Due to their small market size, and their moderate payrolls, the Royals ranked 25th overall in financial resources. Since David Glass purchased the team in 2000, the Royals have slowly increased their payroll, but they still aren’t what you would refer to as big spenders. The Royals payroll this season, however, will be severely depressed following the loss of their seven most expensive contracts from last season (according to Cot’s). Perhaps due to the state of the franchise, the Royals haven’t really handed out any long-term contracts lately either. The only player the Royals have committed to past this season is Billy Butler, who signed an extension in January.

This current strategy could pay huge dividends going forward provided Glass is willing to hand out contracts once the Royals’ young stars start reaching the majors. If the past is any indication, however, Royals’ fans have some reason for concern. In the time that Glass has owned the Royals, the team has traded off it’s most valuable assets. Johnny Damon, Jermaine Dye and Carlos Beltran all came up through the Royals’ system, and all were traded once it became clear the Royals were not willing to offer them long-term contracts.

Due to Glass’ history, it’s unclear whether things will change with this new batch of prospects. If these prospects are as good as advertised, the Royals will eventually have to start paying out significant cash to keep them (either through arbitration or extensions). With so little money tied up in this team going forward, it would be wise for the Royals to consider handing out long-term contracts to their prospects early in their careers. By guaranteeing some financial security to the youngsters early, the Royals stand to save an obscene amount of money as these players develop in the majors.

This process has actually become pretty commonplace in the majors recently; as Evan Longoria, Justin Upton, Ryan Braun and Jay Bruce have all signed significant contracts early in their careers. These contracts, especially Longoria’s, are completely slanted in the team’s favor as the players mentioned are likely to outperform what they are being paid. If the Royals use this strategy, it could pay huge dividends down the road.

It’s also unclear whether Glass would actually be willing to increase payroll as the team begins their climb towards respectability. The commitment to Butler, however, may signify that the team is changing how they will handle their young prospects. If Glass is willing to spend a little more to keep the Royals’ core intact, this team could turn into a perennial contender once all the pieces arrive. That’s a strange notion to ponder considering the current state of the franchise.

The rise of these prospects will obviously play a major role in how the team handles it’s financial resources going forward, but their performance will also affect how the Royals’ baseball operations are viewed. Despite strong recent drafts, the Royals’ baseball operations rated poorly in the Organization Rankings due to their past failures at the major-league level. If the prospects are as good as advertised, people will begin to “trust the process,” leading to a stronger ranking of the Royals’ baseball ops. Obviously, the performance of the prospects once they reach the majors will dictate the Royals’ future grade in the major league talent area as well. The Royals have a lot riding on their barrel of prospects, and their handling of these players will play a major role in the state of the franchise going forward. If handled properly, it’s not hard to see the Royals surging up this list in a few short years.

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Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.

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