Sure, the Royals don't have Johnny Cueto or Ben Zobrist anymore, but they were crushing the American League well before they stocked up at the trade deadline, and Cueto wasn't exactly a stabilizing force for them in the second half, either. This is the short way of saying that the Royals are champs, so they don't have to prove anything in 2016, but they're still very, very capable of proving plenty.
Ian Kennedy is the key in the sense that, if he doesn't work out, the Royals are on the hook for a whole lot of wasted money and their rotation is in a tough spot. Given he's in a pitcher's park that hasn't recently been redesigned in a way to allow homers to flourish, and the Royals' success in keeping Edinson Volquez useful, maybe Kennedy is up to the task, though.
All additions: Ian Kennedy, Joakim Soria, Dillon Gee
While Johnny Cueto took until the World Series to look like Johnny Cueto, Ben Zobrist was everything the Royals wanted from the moment he joined them. While he played in just 59 games for Kansas City, he was a major piece of their lineup and helped fill in at both second base and in left field as needed. Now the Royals are stuck with Omar Infante at second, aka the reason they traded for Zobrist in the first place.
All departures: Ben Zobrist, Johnny Cueto, Ryan Madson, Alex Rios, Jeremy Guthrie, Franklin Morales
You saw the Royals' best-case scenario last October, when they won their first World Series since 1985. Minus Zobrist, the core of that team is still here, and if Ian Kennedy has enough Kauffman Stadium magic sprinkled on him, he can more than replace what Johnny Cueto provided for Kansas City. This is still a team to be taken seriously, and they very well could be the AL Central's best once again.
For all the greatness that could come out of Kansas City in 2016, the fact the most stable element of their rotation is Edinson Volquez could really test those theories about the bullpen's ability to successfully shorten games.
Lineup: Alcides Escobar, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, Kendrys Morales, Alex Gordon, Salvador Perez, Reymond Fuentes, Omar Infante
Rotation: Yordano Ventura, Edinson Volquez, Ian Kennedy, Chris Young, Kris Medlen