When the Royals traded for Carlos Peguero, many people wondered where he would fit on the roster. With two left-handed corner outfielders, Jarrod Dyson and Justin Maxwell as the top bench candidates, and Peguero being out of minor league options, the most likely scenario seemed to be the Royals attempting to sneak Peguero through waivers, at which point he could be stashed in Omaha until he was needed in Kansas City. And with Peguero’s major league track record, it seemed like he probably could pass through waivers without being claimed. Or, at least, it did seem that way.
Obviously, anytime spring training stats are brought up, the usual caveats apply. The competition isn’t always major league-quality. The data comes from a very small sample size. Offensive stats can be inflated in Arizona. So, the lesson is to always take spring training stats with a grain of salt.
All that being said, it’s only fair to take note of what Peguero is doing right now. In his 29 plate appearances, he’s hit .348/.483/.522, with 1 home run. More importantly, Peguero has drawn 6 walks, which comes out to a walk rate of 20.7%. Again, small sample size, but that’s very nice to see. He’s also struck out 6 times, but that’s certainly to be expected, knowing his history. Peguero is always going to be a high strikeout player, but the hope has been that his power can still bring enough value to the table. Thus far, he hasn’t had a Mike Moustakas-in-Arizona kind of power performance, but a .174 ISO is quite respectable. Still, it’s the on-base ability he’s shown that has opened the eyes of some fans, leading some to question if he may be able to force his way onto the Opening Day roster.
Personally, I still don’t see that as a possibility. The team seems to value Maxwell more for that fifth outfielder role, and they also appear more concerned with losing him to waivers, if he were designated for assignment. Peguero could absolutely provide some left-handed pop off the bench, but much like when he was acquired, it’s hard to see where he fits in. His defense isn’t quite as strong as Maxwell’s, and the only player for whom he would likely pinch hit is Alcides Escobar, but with no backup middle infielder, that option is eliminated. The Royals simply can’t keep a sixth outfielder on the 25 man roster.
So while Peguero’s spring training performance isn’t likely to win him a roster spot in Kansas City, it may be serving as an audition of sorts for other teams. The other franchises around the league pay attention to what’s happening at every spring training camp. They see which players are out of options, and which ones will likely become available as roster cuts are made. Now, I’m not saying a team will offer some kind of meaningful trade package for Peguero, but I do think he may not pass through waivers if he continues to show the plate discipline he’s had in Surprise. Teams will surely take into account the sample size from which the stats are coming, so I don’t expect to see Peguero starting for a major league team on Opening Day. However, Peguero could provide some value as a powerful bench bat to a team lacking in that department.
The Royals are in a bit of a strange place. They obviously want their players to do well at spring training, but in a way, it may benefit them for Peguero to perform poorly. If he’s hovering around the Mendoza line with a .250 OBP, they may have a better chance of sneaking him through waivers. And if they can get him to Omaha, he can provide some depth in case of any injuries to the big league outfielders.
As it stands, Peguero is hitting well, and I would bet many teams are taking notice. Barring something strange, he still won’t be on the Royals’ 25 man roster on Opening Day, but he may be setting himself up nicely to land with some other team that can use his left-handed power at the major league level.