Perhaps for some of the players listed “hitters” is quite generous, but no matter.
When last we joined our Royal blue crusaders, we were examining the current 40 man roster and I was offering potential solutions to managing it. The first installment focused on pitchers. This installment features the position players.
Let’s dig in.
Players under contract
The Royals picked up David DeJesus‘s option in October and provided his thumb has healed fully from the injury that killed his trade value in late July, he’ll be an everyday player and the dean of the Royals.*
*That phrase takes me back to my grade school days when I had a Topps team checklist card featuring John Mayberry (I believe) and listed him as the dean of the Royals on the back. It took me about 20 years to realize that simply meant “longest period of time with the team”.
Kendall will have to be activated and reinstated this weekend, though once it’s an option, the Royals will return him to the 60 day disabled list while he continues to recover from rotator cuff surgery. Betancourt is… well he’s Yuni and he’ll be back. The Royals hold a a club option on him for 2012 and I hope like nothing else we have a shortstop replacement lined up by then.
Players under team control
- Luke May
- Manuel Pina
- Mike Aviles
- Jeff Bianchi
- Chris Getz
- Kila Ka’aihue
- Joaquin Arias
- Lance Zawadzki
- Gregor Blanco
- Jarrod Dyson
- Mitch Maier
- Jordan Parraz
If you were curious, the Royals are an awfully young team. This list contains players who have less than three years of service time and thus aren’t eligible for arbitration. Aviles and Maier just missed Super Two status I believe.
Arias and Zawadzki were both acquired within the past 48 hours, both utility players and both quite young. If I had to choose just one to stick long-term I’d choose Arias. Zawadzki has had some buzz about him in the past, so the Royals have him around as a lottery ticket – if they get something from him, great. If not, well they didn’t lose anything. Our own Gage Matthews has an excellent write up for both of the new Royals, first focusing on Arias and then checking out Zawadzki‘s potential as well. He did some fantastic digging and it’s worth the read.
May, Aviles, Getz, Ka’aihue, Blanco and Maier are as sure a thing to make the final 40 man roster as you can find, though they may not all be there by the end of spring training. For now, though, they’re easy players to retain. May should split time with Brayan Pena (more on him in a moment) while Kendall recovers, while Pina should be in Omaha as the everyday catcher.
Bianchi has potential and he’s been a top infield prospect in the Royals system for a while, but repeated and separate injuries have cost him years of developmental time. Most recently, he underwent Tommy John surgery and may be coming back for spring training. If his recovery continues to drag or he has a setback, he may be a roster casualty, which is unfortunate, but that’s baseball.
Parraz is intriguing and should stay on the 40 man roster, though he does need to get a shot in the big leagues soon. He does run the risk of being cut if the Royals choose to include David Lough instead. If nothing else, he’s right-handed, and you’ll notice the other major league outfield options are not. He could be the winner of the Shane Costa/Aaron Guiel/Mitch Maier “first guy up from Triple A” contest though if necessary.
The interesting case in this list is Jarrod Dyson. After spending half of last season rehabbing from various injuries, including a lingering high ankle sprain, Dyson toiled in the lower levels on rehab assignments, finally rocketing through Double and Triple A before making a splash in Kansas City. He’s definitely a speedy option who could find a niche in the number 9 spot in the lineup while he uses his speed to run down fly balls in center field. Obviously, he stays on the 40 man and the more dramatic question is “does he start in center?”
Absent, you’ll notice, is Jai Miller who was outrighted to Triple A when the Royals claimed Zawadzki off waivers Friday afternoon. He’ll be a minor league free agent.
Players eligible for arbitration
Everyone who will be tendered a contract this month, take a step forward.
Not so fast, Mr. Fields.
Butler and Gordon are no-brainers. Pena’s role on the club was shaky after getting no at bats for the better part of four months, then getting most of the time after Jason Kendall‘s injury. He performed well enough to stick around while Kendall continues his gritty battle back from the disabled list.
Betemit may not be a long-term fit at all, but he’s coming off a strong season where he was among the Royals only power threats. With Alberto Callaspo gone and Mike Moustakas likely to come around later in the year (although I think he’s ready for prime time), Betemit will man third base.
The additions of Arias and Zawadzki give the Royals infield options and flexibility to use Aviles at third base to spell Betemit from time to time. They can also put Aviles at third and Betemit at first, or Arias at third, or… what I’m getting at is that Fields doesn’t really have a home and he’s never been a strong defender either. He’d be a right handed bat off the bench who’s prone to striking out. I don’t think the Royals see a lot of use for him, unfortunately. If they found a way to keep him, I think he does offer some upside, but striking out every fourth at bat saps his value.
Brief thought: Chris Getz isn’t a solid lock to make the team. I have no doubt he’ll be with Kansas City at spring training, but the acquisition of all these infielders can’t be great news for him either. If they outright Getz and non-tender Fields, the Royals will have nothing remaining from the Carlos Beltran trade. That’s quite sad.
We started with 20 players listed and in the end I think only one gets pushed off the island. There’s a slight chance Bianchi could be dropped off the 40 man if he’s struggling in his recovery, but for now, I feel he’s safe.
We cut one player today and kept 19 and cut seven pitchers to get down to 15 yesterday. The next step is to take those six vacant spots and fill them with prospects.
It’s gonna be fun, I promise.