With the vast majority of the Kansas City Royals roster seemingly set for Opening Day on March 31st, there are not that many positions left open. The biggest questions on the roster are the identities of the fifth starter and fifth outfielder, should the Royals elect to keep a fifth outfielder at the start of the season. Then there is the question of who will be the Royals backup middle infielder.
Since Alcides Escobar ‘hit’ at a level that made one recall the days of Onix Concepcion and Omar Infante missed time with a leg injury last year, the backup middle infielder could end up receiving more time than usual. As Hunter pointed out, the Royals are going to give Danny Valencia a look at second base during Spring Training, making him a possibility for the backup middle infield spot. Another possibility that has been brought up for the position, if one is really thinking outside the box, is Brett Hayes.
As the article pointed out, Hayes has experience in both corner outfield positions and around the infield. However, at the major league level, that experience comes to a total of seven innings, five at first base and one inning each in left and right field. Hayes also has not actually had to field a ball at third, nor has he needed to at either corner outfield position. So, that experience can be encapsulated by stating that he can stand there with a glove on his hand. In his one minor league game at short, he made three errors in eight chances. While the idea of attempting to use Hayes as a super utility player would sound great in theory, it just does not seem practical.
Another factor against such an idea is that Ned Yost is not exactly renown for his unorthodox approach. This is not Joe Maddon tinkering with the lineup and trying different players in different positions. If anything, he may see some time at first base should something happen to Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez. Brett Hayes will simply be a backup catcher, if he even makes the team out of Spring Training.
That is not to say that Hayes will not see the field. He will probably get into one or two games a week, totaling approximately 100 plate appearances. Hayes will provide a bit of power as Perez’s backup, but not much else. Unless the Royals find themselves in desperate need of power, and no other options, Hayes will simply remain a backup.
Just because Brett Hayes has ‘experience’ playing other positions does not mean that he is a fit as the Royals utility player. If anything, either Valencia or Mike Moustakas, who was originally drafted as a shortstop, may see time in the middle of the diamond.