How crowded can the outfield get?

We thought we knew all the players in the Royals 2010 outfield mix.  David DeJesus, Rick Ankiel, and Scott Podsednik figure to be the every day starters.  Then there is the “part-time” group that is fronted by Brian N. Anderson and Mitch Maier.  This group also theoretically includes the following:  Jose Guillen, Josh Fields, Willie Bloomquist, and Alberto Callaspo.  Add to that the two other outfielders on the 40-man roster, Jordan Parraz and Jarrod Dyson, and it seems like the Royals have a lot of “parts” to work with.

Well apparently those parts just aren’t enough.  The Royals are one of a number of teams who have recently expressed interest in Endy Chavez.

To start, let me refer back to what I wrote on January 10th, shortly after the Royals had signed Scott Podsednik, but before they had also landed Rick Ankiel.

Between Brian Anderson and Podsednik, Dayton has taken up two spots on the 40-man roster and committed $2.45 million to them in the process.  All of that could have been saved by simply giving Endy a chance to play CF every day.  Offensively he’s a career 0.270/.312/.367 hitter with good speed who would have been a perfect complement to Mitch Maier for some spring training CF competition.  Whoever didn’t win the starting job could slide into the 4th OF spot on the roster.  Chavez isn’t going to tear the cover off the ball and he’s not going to provide any power, but neither are Podsednik or Anderson.  What Endy can do is play defense at a much higher level than anyone else on the roster, and that includes DeJesus.

These are Endy’s UZR/150 numbers at each outfield position with number of innings played in parenthesis:

LF  24.8  (1,119.2)
CF  10.7 (2,986.2)
RF  19.8 (845.2)

In a vacuum I am a huge fan of signing Endy Chavez.  He has value as an everyday player at any of the three OF positions, and even more value if he’s on the roster as a team’s 4th outfielder.  I’d take him over Podsednik, Brian N. Anderson, and Mitch Maier any day of the week.  The problem is that we already have those three guys on the 40-man roster to go along with DJ and Ankiel.

What would the addition of Chavez do to the Royals roster?

To start, it probably guarantees that Mitch Maier would be designated for assignment to make room for Endy on the 40-man.  I’m sure the organization would like to get him through waivers and assigned to Omaha, but my guess is that another organization would claim him.  As a 4th or 5th OF option Mitch Maier has quite a bit of value.  He’s proven himself in the minors and while his BA and SLG didn’t show up in 397 plate appearances in 2009, he was able to post a respectable 0.333 OBP.  Personally I’d rather have Maier over Anderson and would have never signed BA in the first place, but it is what it is.

It would also probably mean that Anderson, and his $700,000 salary, would head to Triple-A since he has an option left.  In theory, if Endy signed a minor league contract, he could be the one to start out in Omaha, but in a straight-up competition there is no comparison.  Endy is a better player than BA, and if the Royals intend to go with their best 25 on opening day it’s got to be Endy.

The 5th OF slot figures to be used as a way to get other guys occasional playing time but with Fields and Callaspo as potential spot starters in this role, that raises some questions about Willie Bloomquist’s role on the roster.  A role which shrank noticeably with the acquisition of Chris Getz and the eventual return of a healthy Mike Aviles.  With Betancourt, Aviles, Getz, and Callaspo as the options at 2B and SS there just isn’t room for Wee Willie’s services on this roster.  This fact just highlights how asinine it was for Dayton to give Bloomquist a 2-year deal prior to the 2009 season.  He needs to be traded if Moore can find a taker.

The addition of Endy Chavez would also add fuel to the speculative fire that David DeJesus is about to be dealt.  I’m okay with trading DJ if the pieces that are brought back in the deal make sense, but he still has more value to the Royals than he probably does to other teams.  He’s an above average fielder, he’s the teams 3rd best hitter, he’s the best leadoff hitter on the roster, and with a salary of $4.7 million in 2010 and $6 million in 2011 he remains reasonably priced.

If Endy Chavez is signed and David DeJesus remains on the team, an outfield mix of Rick Ankiel, David DeJesus, Scott Podsednik, and Chavez is respectable.  At worst it is a huge upgrade over the 2009 mix.  Even now after all the other moves to improve the OF, I would wholeheartedly embrace the signing of Endy Chavez.  However it really makes you wonder if Dayton Moore is really operating with a plan.  If he is, why did he bother to give Brian Anderson a major league contract?

Speaking of that plan, where are all the young guys with 0-3 years of major league experience Moore said he was going to add?

(Wally Fish is the lead blogger for Kings of Kauffman and FanSided’s MLB Director.  Subscribe to his RSS feed and add him on Twitter to follow him daily.)

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Tags: AL Central Alberto Callaspo Baseball Brian N. Anderson Chris Getz David DeJesus Endy Chavez Jarrod Dyson Jordan Parraz Jose Guillen Josh Fields Kansas City Royals KC Mike Aviles Mitch Maier MLB Rick Ankiel Royals Scott Podsednik Willie Bloomquist Yuniesky Betancourt

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