When the Kansas City Royals and Ned Yost decided that having a fifth outfielder would be more important than carrying a backup middle infielder or a seventh reliever, it was expected that the player would receive a decent amount of playing time. Although the starting lineup was set, the insistence that Justin Maxwell would be a part of the Opening Day roster made it seem that Maxwell would have a presence in the lineup.
Instead, Maxwell has had a grand total of four at bats this season, making a single start on April 6th. His other appearances came when Yost got all pinch runner happy on April 2nd and as a white flag last night, coming in for Alex Gordon in the seventh inning. Even though it is not even two weeks into the season, Maxwell does not appear as though he truly has a role on the Royals.
So, why keep Justin Maxwell on the roster? In theory, he could be a right handed power bat off the bench, ready to face off against a left handed reliever. However, the Royals already have Danny Valencia for that player. Unless Yost is concerned with needing to pinch hit against a left handed reliever when Valencia is in the lineup, having a second version of Valencia just does not make sense.
Another option would be to have someone to play either corner outfield position, since Jarrod Dyson has only played in center field over his major league career. However, Maxwell is a below average defensive outfield, particularly in either corner outfield position. Meanwhile, both Norichika Aoki and Lorenzo Cain have played all three outfield positions, which would still provide Yost enough flexibility in the outfield to give someone a day off if needed.
At this point, Justin Maxwell’s greatest assets for the Royals may be that Ned Yost loves himself some Justin Maxwell and the grand slam that he hit last year. Maxwell is also out of options, so the thought is that another team may claim him if exposed to waivers. However, his 2013 glory days and the idea that he could be lost are not enough of a reason to keep Maxwell on the roster.
It would be a completely different matter if Justin Maxwell was to receive steady playing time, yet that seems quite unlikely. At this point, Maxwell is nothing more than the superfluous Royal.