The first part of the offseason is a great opportunity to take a look at some housekeeping issues. Yesterday, Craig took a look at the payroll moving forward. Today, let’s take a peek at the 40-man roster and the issues the Royals might have with it, both in 2018 and moving forward. That roster, along with options remaining, can shape a roster throughout the season. Do you think Cheslor Cuthbert would have been in the big leagues all year with little playing time if he had options remaining? Do you think Whit Merrifield would have still been optioned to start 2017 if Christian Colon had options? Both answers should be no.
At the end of the season, the Royals 40-man roster was completely full. A ridiculous nine players taking up spots are set to become free agents here in the next few weeks. Some may be back, most won’t, but that’ll open up the roster a little bit moving forward. Of course, Miguel Almonte, Brian Flynn, Nate Karns and Bubba Starling will need to be activated from the 60-day DL and put back on the 40-man roster, so the net gain heading into the offseason will be five.
Ryan O’Hearn, Eric Stout, Corey Toups,
Foster Griffin, Corey Ray, Brandon Downes and Emilio Ogando are some of the players who the Royals will need to add to the 40-man roster this winter to protect from the Rule 5 draft in September. Some could likely get by without being selected, but I would bet the Royals add at least O’Hearn, Stout and Griffin and I wouldn’t be surprised to see any of the others added as well. So that takes up spots. Edit: Griffin doesn’t need to go on the 40-man this winter as pointed out in the comments. He might yet get there because he’s nearly ready, but it’s not a necessity. Yet.
And then there are the players who are out of options. Those include Jorge Bonifacio, Terrance Gore, Jorge Soler, Brian Flynn Nate Karns and Billy Burns. Bonifacio, Soler and Karns are no-brainers for the Royals to figure out how to keep them on the big league roster in 2018, but the other three are the easy roster casualties if they need to make a move. It’ll be sad to see Gore let go, and I can’t imagine some contending team won’t pick him up with September baseball in mind, but that’s the business of baseball sometimes.
If the Royals are in need of a roster spot, there are some DFA candidates as well, though I won’t pretend to really understand the Royals thought process since I’m the guy who thought Ramon Torres would be DFAed about a million times before he was called up last season. Still, Miguel Almonte, Sam Gaviglio, and maybe even Bubba Starling would be candidates in addition to the guys who are out of options.
But it’s not even only them. As Craig noted yesterday, there are four arbitration eligible players – Kelvin Herrera, Nate Karns, Brandon Maurer and Mike Morin – and it seems like only one is a true lock to be tendered a contract. That guy is Karns because at an estimated cost of $1.4 million, the Royals can’t afford to not make a deal work there given their lack of rotation depth. But I guess even he is no guarantee because if he’s not recovering from his TOS surgery, maybe they even move on from him.
Of course, there are trades. We talked earlier this week about how the Royals might be able to fit some of their almost free agents into their 2018 budget and it included dealing off some veterans. The names mentioned were Ian Kennedy, Jason Hammel, Joakim Soria and Brandon Moss. With the exception of Moss, though, trading any of the other three would require finding new big league pitchers who would need to be on the 40-man, so they won’t make a big difference when it comes to roster space.
I’ve said this before, but we’re about to embark on the most interesting offseason the Royals have had in years. We’ve got coaching staff intrigue, front office intrigue and even roster intrigue. There is quite a bit of potential roster movement coming up in the next few months and it doesn’t just involve the players who are set to hit free agency for the first time. The Royals have important decisions to make on some of the prospects we’ve heard about for years, some of the players who have been up and down over the last few seasons and even some guys who we’ve seen plenty of in the big leagues. Between that and the already somewhat bloated payroll, there’s fan intrigue as well to see just how this all turns out because there are all sorts of possibilities.