One month ago, I revealed my first guess as to what the Kansas City Royals’ Opening Day roster might look like. At best, such an exercise is an educated guess, and certainly subject to variables that could not be foreseen.
Since that post, for instance, the Royals signed Brandon Moss, Jason Hammel, Travis Wood, Peter Moylan and Seth Maness. We also found out that Brian Flynn fell through a barn. Even as I write this, I feel as though Dayton Moore probably has one more signing in him this spring (Luke Hochevar?) if not more. I am fairly confident that no one will injure themselves doing household chores, but am cautious about eliminating the possibility that the Royals could lose someone to a pulled groin from shifting chairs during a team meeting.
Given that the Royals have played less than a week of spring training games, it is not surprising that there are few changes from my January listing of position players. In fact, other than swapping in Moss for Peter O’Brien is the only change.
Catchers – Salvador Perez and Drew Butera.
Infield – Eric Hosmer, Alcides Escobar, Mike Moustakas, Whit Merrifield, Cheslor Cuthbert and Christian Colon.
Comments out of Royals’ camp thus far point to the team wanting to be cautious with Moustakas and, at least early on, somewhat expecting to not have a player grab firm hold of the second base job. That line of thinking bodes well for Cuthbert, the obvious choice to spell Moose at third, the versatile Merrifield and Colon, who is the only one who plays shortstop. The wildcard is of course Raul Mondesi, but it is a light-year leap from what he did last year to a performance level that is even marginally livable. I think he spends at least the first half of the year in Omaha.
Outfield – Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Jorge Soler, Paulo Orlando and Brandon Moss.
With two early spring home runs, O’Brien is going to make this interesting, but I don’t see where he finds a roster spot. Truthfully, even if a player were to outright win the second base job and the Royals decided to go with just one backup infielder, it is hard to envision O’Brien getting the last spot (where and when would he play?). I could actually see Terrance Gore getting the spot over him as he would likely be a more used weapon off the bench.
Injuries happen, things change, but when it comes to the position players, it is hard to see much changing from the above when we run this exercise again towards the end of March. Moving on to the pitching staff, however, Dayton Moore made a number of moves this past month that impact what the staff will look like come April.
Starting Rotation – Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, Jason Hammel, Jason Vargas, Nate Karns.
A lot of folks would put Travis Wood in the fifth spot and not be wrong. It may be more hope than logic that has Karns holding down my number five spot in the rotation. Based on only the fumes in my own head, I think the Royals would be delighted to have Karns step forward as a starter and be able to utilize Wood near the back of the bullpen. Given that a month ago Karns was the fourth starter and Chris Young was the front runner for the fifth spot, this unit is quite an improvement.
Bullpen – Kelvin Herrera, Joakim Soria, Matt Strahm, Travis Wood, Chris Young, Peter Moylan and Chris Withrow.
Only Herrera, Soria and Strahm were in this group just one month ago and, again, the change is for the better. If you want to swap Wood and Karns, I’ll let you. Young is not going anywhere and, as I wrote a few weeks back, might just ‘matter’. I have an irrational attachment to Peter Moylan and believe he has a job to lose even though he is a recent signing. Truthfully, if Moylan is your fifth guy, that is a solid group. I chose Chris Withrow for the final spot over Seth Maness, who I am going to predict might need just a bit more time to get game ready after having ‘primary repair’ surgery last August. I once again ignore Mike Minor, who currently occupies a 40 man roster spot and will not speak of Kyle Zimmer other than to say if someone is going to suffer a freak injury, it is surely him.
The debate over whether the Royals are true contenders in 2017 continues, but there is no debate that this group of twenty-five is better than the group I wrote about one month ago.