With big decisions looming over the organization in the near future, the Kansas City Royals will open the 2017 season Monday afternoon against divisional foe Minnesota.
The 2015 World Series champions dropped off last season, in part due to an injury bug that left several key players on the bench for most of the summer. KC finished 81-81, in third place in the American League Central.
The division champion, Cleveland, went on to win the AL pennant and lose to the Chicago Cubs in a seven-game World Series last fall.
The Royals made several notable roster moves over the offseason in an attempt to make themselves more competitive in 2017 without sacrificing the future. KC traded All Star closer Wade Davis to the Cubs for outfielder Jorge Soler.
KC also acquired pitchers Jason Hammel, Travis Wood and Nathan Karns, along with slugger Brandon Moss, who will be the team’s new designated hitter after Kendrys Morales signed with the Toronto Blue Jays.
The biggest headline of the Royals’ offseason came on Jan. 22, when starting pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car crash in his native Dominican Republic. Ventura, 25, started 93 games with the club over four seasons.
It will be up to Danny Duffy, who had the best season of his career in 2016, to pick up a lot of the slack in the starting rotation. KC will also depend on veterans Ian Kennedy and Jason Vargas to pull a significant weight.
The Royals and Twins open their 162-game schedule at 3:10 p.m. Monday. As a member of the Royals Radio Network, News Radio KMAN will air the majority of KC games over the next six months.