While the Kansas City Royals organization and its fans are basking in the glow of their 2015 World Series triumph, there is already strong speculation in betting futures revolving around next fall's MLB champion.
The Chicago Cubs, who are coming off their strongest push for a long-sought championship in more than a decade, are the early 2016 World Series odds favorite at +1100 - meaning a successful $100 wager would produce an $1100 profit.
The Cubs have no major free agents from a 97-victory team, plus there is talk that 18-game winner David Price, a free agent, could sign in Chicago to reunite with his former Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon.
A half-dozen teams share the second-favorite spot. The reigning Royals, National League champion New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, Toronto Blue Jays and Washington Nationals are set at +1200 on the 2016 World Series odds.
Kansas City could lose RHP Johnny Cueto, 2B Ben Zobrist, LF Alex Gordon and RF Alex Rios through free agency. Major League Baseball has also not had a repeat World Series champion since the 1998-2000 New York Yankees, although the San Francisco Giants won three titles from 2010-14.
Three other teams that had playoff-quality seasons, the Houston Astros, Pittsburgh Pirates and Texas Rangers, are listed at +1400 on the World Series odds for next year. The Yankees are listed at +1800 and their AL East archrival the Boston Red Sox are listed at +2000.
The longest shots include the Atlanta Braves and Colorado Rockies at +10000, and the Philadelphia Phillies at +20000.
In the aftermath of the 2014 World Series, the Dodgers and Nationals were installed as 15/2 co-favorites to win it all in 2015. The Dodgers won the NL West before being eliminated in the division series by the Mets, while the Nationals collapsed over the final two months of the regular season to finish with an 83-79 record, which also got manager Matt Williams fired.
Other teams pegged as solid 2015 championship hopefuls such as the Detroit Tigers (10/1), Los Angeles Angels (10/1) and San Francisco (12/1) fell far short of the postseason.
Conversely, the Royals received 16/1 odds even after coming within one victory of winning the 2014 Series. At that time, the Cubs (33/1), Blue Jays (33/1) and Mets (40/1) were also seen as longshots in 2015, but they ended up forming the sport's final four this fall.