We have a new labor agreement in place, which means the offseason should theoretically open up. And what do you know? The winter meetings start on Monday, so there should at least be some rumors to talk about or something. Maybe the Royals aren’t just sitting out this offseason after all. As a public service, I’ll remind you that the rumors flow hot and heavy during the meetings and not to believe everything you hear. We’ve all been duped before by an ambitious reporter getting a rumor started and then felt despair when it didn’t come to fruition. It happens, but, as the kids say, stay woke.
This week’s edition of Notes will be a little shorter as we await all those fantastic rumors that we’ll see that will help to sustain us through the cold, dark winter.
- If the Royals are looking for a small move to make, I really believe signing Franklin Gutierrez makes a lot of sense for this team. It’s looking like Jarrod Dyson is going to play an important role in 2017, and while I think that’s great, he needs a legitimate platoon partner to play against lefties. Dyson just isn’t very good against them, his 2016 performance notwithstanding. Gutierrez, though, is fantastic against left-handers. In 2016, he hit .280/.373/.511 against lefties with 12 homers in 217 plate appearances. In his career, he’s hit .289/.351/.495 against southpaws. He can’t play every day anymore, but he can serve a right fielder against left-handed pitching. That will allow the Royals to have a bat to actually hit lefties, but also will be the perfect opportunity to get Lorenzo Cain starts in center field, but without him having to play center on an every day basis. That would hopefully keep his legs fresh and allow him to approach the 140 games he played in 2015. Not only will that help the Royals on the field, but a healthy Cain is likely to make more money as a free agent, which now benefits the Royals because if he gets a deal for over $50 million, the Royals get a better comp pick for him. So, you see, signing Gutierrez isn’t just important for 2017, it’s vital for the future.
- There’s a lot of hype about Ryan O’Hearn, and while I was impressed with what he was able to do in the Arizona Fall League, I feel like I’m one of the few who just isn’t able to get on the hype train for him. Yes, he hits the ball very hard. And yes, he has some excellent power that he’s shown in games in his minor league career. And that’s important. But he has so much swing and miss to his game that I wonder if he’ll be able to hack it at the big league level. He struck out 158 times in 564 plate appearances during the 2016 season and while he walked 56 times, I just haven’t been all that impressed with his plate discipline. If he can somehow turn into a 40-home run threat, nobody will care, but for a guy who might hit 35 doubles and 20-25 homers, I just don’t know that there’s enough else in the offensive profile for him to end up excelling as a big leaguer. The talent is definitely there, so maybe he can prove me wrong, but I’m not all that excited about O’Hearn.
- I really like the idea of the 10-day DL instead of the 15-day DL, and as I mentioned yesterday, I think it benefits the Royals more than it might some other teams. Think about last season in that game Salvador Perez and Cheslor Cuthbert collided before the crazy comeback against the White Sox. Perez missed the next few games with the thigh bruise he sustained in the collision. The Royals refused to put him on the disabled list because they were convinced he’d only be out about a week and didn’t want to lose him for the full 15 days. Now imagine that injury happens in 2017 and he’s expected to miss six to eight games. Are the Royals going to play with a short bench because they don’t want to wait for him to be eligible to return? Of course not. They’ll put him on the DL and call someone up from Omaha. The Royals are notoriously slow to deal with injuries. It seems like they always feel like a player is day-to-day only to find out that they need longer to heal than originally anticipated. And I get it. But because of that, the Royals play with a short bench and a short team way too often. Now, though, they can be a little more liberal with their DL usage. I do understand the concern about teams using it to game the system and put a starting pitcher on the disabled list when really they’re just skipping one of his starts, but I love the opportunity this provides.