Say Hello To Your 2018 Kansas City Royals

Until the last few days, there existed some chance that the Royals would re-sign Eric Hosmer and, given the current lack of interest, maybe even Mike Moustakas or possibly Jarrod Dyson. Familiar names, fun names, maybe not logical signings, but interest kindling news. Even in the unlikely event that all three might have returned to the fold, Kansas City still would have been lucky to project as a team that could do any more than reach the .500 mark (if that, even).

All that is likely gone.

Hosmer is signed with the Padres.  Dyson is off to the Diamondbacks and the dialogue between Kansas City and Moustakas is, at best, chilly. Jason Vargas has a contract elsewhere.  Hell, even Peter Moylan has found a different bullpen to fight kangaroos in. I might miss you most of all, Moylan.

Kansas City, if they did not before, now most definitely looks the part of a rebuilding team. They are talking the talk as well, as Dayton Moore indicated it was unlikely he would pursue any of the other free agents remaining out there.  Whether you were eager for it or dreading it, the rebuild is here. Some of you were too young or just too used to not following baseball to remember a time when 80-82 was a good year instead of a disappointing one. If you fall into that category, all I can say is buckle up. This is what your team might well look like come March 29th.

At catcher, we have probably the most certain of all roster spots: Salvador Perez backed up by Drew Butera. If an injury comes this way, Cam Gallagher was competent in brief work last year as well. Unless Perez goes down for long stretches or his interesting theory on the strike zone gets worse, the Royals are not bad here.  They might even be, dare we say it, good.

As it stands right now, the infield has a giant opening at first and some possible (and I think unwise) reshuffling if the organization once again falls in love with Raul Mondesi this spring. Let’s not kid ourselves, the Royals have been wishing for Mondesi to turn into Francisco Lindor since before they knew Lindor was as good as he is, and it has probably done Mondesi few favors. You can go two ways on this. The first is that Kansas City is not going to contend, so what’s the harm in letting Mondesi struggle and learn in the majors? The second theory would be what’s the harm in seeing if Whit Merrifield is really as good as he was last year at a position he is used to playing in the majors while Mondesi gets confident in AAA? I like the latter, and I wonder if the resigning of Escobar means the organization is leaning that way as well, despite some of the rumblings to the contrary.

Let’s say that I, for once, am right and Merrifield is the second baseman, with Escobar (gulp) at shortstop and Cheslor Cuthbert at third base. While there is a generous allotment of potential first basemen in the system (Samir Duenez, Ryan O’Hearn and Frank Schwindel head the list), Hunter Dozier is the oldest. I would entertain the argument that flipping Dozier and Cuthbert would make sense, but the Royals seem to have some affection for Cuthbert staying at third this year. If there is a free agent signing, it probably is for someone to play (or stand in the general area of) first base.

Playing Alex Gordon in center has some public appeal, as does giving Bubba Starling a look. I am a fan of neither, despite the entertainment value of both in what is likely to be a long summer. To start the year, it seems more than likely that Gordon will be back in left, Paulo Orlando will be in center, Jorge Bonifacio in right with Jorge Soler as the designated hitter. Like me, I don’t think the Royals have a ton of belief that Orlando will ever get close to his BABIP fueled run of near competency in 2016, but I also do not believe they are ready to throw Starling to the wolves, so Paulo likely gets the nod by default. I will also be shocked – SHOCKED I TELL YA! – if one of Billy Burns or Tyler Collins does not make the team as a fifth outfielder. As a point of clarification, that is not because I see any value in either being on the roster, both are just the kind of player that teams in the tear down portion of a rebuild have in their lineup.

For fun, I will throw out a batting order that has no relevance to anything I have heard or read and, frankly, little thought. It is not all that relevant to the overall discussion, but is a nice way to summarize a general look at this squad:

Merrifield 2B
Bonifacio RF
Perez C
Soler DH
Gordon LF
Orlando CF
Cuthbert 3B
Dozier 1B
Escobar SS

Butera is obviously on the bench as the backup catcher, joined by Burns or Collins (please not both, please!) and I would venture a guess Ryan Goins as the utility infielder. You could make a case for Ramon Torres in this spot, but I could see the organization wanting to let him garner regular time in Omaha to start the year. If the team were to go with 12 pitchers instead of 13, something I think is unlikely, it would open a spot for Cody Asche, as a fallback (not a good one, mind you) in case Cuthbert and Dozier both are truly awful.

Okay gang, I am generally a ray of optimism when this time of year rolls around. Way back when, I was excited about Mark Teahan and Ruben Gotay. I not only owned (own) an Angel Berroa jersey, but a Shane Costa AND Ryan Shealy jersey as well. That said, the above position player roster is uninspiring at best.

One can look at seven of the starting nine (excluding Orlando and Escobar) and be hopeful for improvement or, in the case of Perez and Merrifield, sustainment. You can do that, be pretty optimistic and have an offense that is not awful, but still not very good and a defense that is just okay. THAT is the optimistic view.

Welcome to 2018.

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2 comments on “Say Hello To Your 2018 Kansas City Royals”


Very well lined out. I see a much different team come August just based on rising and falling of certain players.

I see Javier Baez as the upside for Mondesi, which wouldnt be a half-bad starting point for this team. If Soler can play himself into a Domingo Santana clone and Perez and Merrifield can maintain, this is not a half-bad beginning for an enjoyable team to watch.

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