Originally, there were twelve players on the Kansas City Royals that had been eligible for arbitration. Due to trades, a settlement and players being outright released, that number was pared down to seven last night when the official arbitration deadline was met. Now, Aaron Crow, Emilio Bonifacio, Eric Hosmer, Greg Holland, Justin Maxwell, Luke Hochevar and Tim Collins will potentially get their day before an arbitrator to determine next season’s salary.
According to the projections over at MLB Trade Rumors, these seven players are expected to earn a combined $21.4 Million this season. With the Royals payroll already at $64.1 Million next season, it seems unlikely that all of these players will be with the Royals next season.
Greg Holland and Eric Hosmer are virtual locks to be with the Royals on Opening Day. Holland has developed into one of the top closers in not only the American League, but in all of baseball. For a team looking to make a postseason run, knowing that the ninth inning is as close to automatic as possible gives Ned Yost one less thing to worry about. Hosmer appeared to turn a corner towards the second half of last season, and may be on the cusp of producing the type of season that has been expected of him. In fact, both players could be solid options for an extension as well, if they are open to the possibility.
Emilio Bonifacio has been the subject of occasional trade rumors himself, but his versatility makes him quite valuable to the Royals. Bonifacio can play all three outfield positions, and has played second, short and third. Carrying Bonifacio could allow the Royals to only carry four outfielders, and may allow for more flexibility on the bench. The main issue is that Bonifacio is projected to make $3.3 Million in arbitration. Will the Royals want to spend that much on a super utility player?
Then we come to Luke Hochevar, who is expected to earn $5 Million through arbitration, the highest expected payout. His fate may rest on how he performs in Spring Training. Hochevar is expected to compete with Wade Davis, Vordano Ventura and Kyle Zimmer for the final spot in the rotation, and if he can seize that opening, could be worth the $5 Million. However, if Hochevar misses out due to Davis or Ventura simply outperforming him during Spring Training, it is hard to envision the Royals spending that much for a setup man.
Aaron Crow, Justin Maxwell and Tim Collins are appear to be pieces that could be on the trading block. The Royals have excellent depth in their bullpen, and either Crow or Collins could be deemed replaceable. Maxwell was expected to fill the role as a right handed power bat off the bench, but the Royals traded for Danny Valencia. If Valencia is really not going to platoon with Mike Moustakas at third and simply be a power bat off the bench, then he and Maxwell serve the same purpose.
Right now, the Kansas City Royals have seven players that are heading to arbitration. Chances are, all seven will not be with the club on Opening Day.