Aug 7, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals catcher Brett Hayes (12) hits a double in the third inning against the Minnesota Twins at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
As it stands, there are really four positions open for debate on the Kansas City Royals. Although, in some cases, we may have a solid idea as to who will win those spots, the Royals need to determine who their backup catcher, fifth starter, final reliever and whether or not they will go with a backup middle infielder or a fifth outfielder. That is it. As far as Spring Training goes, barring a catastrophic injury, the Royals should have few problems in determining their roster.
However, with those four open positions, the Royals are likely to lose a player or three that they wanted. Right now, the Royals have seven players that are out of options. Let’s take a look at each situation.
Brett Hayes is engaged in a competition for the Royals backup catcher spot with Roman Hernandez and Francisco Pena. Pena is still considered to be raw behind the plate, and is likely to be ticketed to Omaha unless something unforeseen happens. As such, the competition really boils down to Hayes and Hernandez. With Hernandez being signed to a minor league contract and Hayes out of options, the job appears to be Hayes’ to lose.
Amongst the fielders, Danny Valencia and Jarrod Dyson appear to be locked in as the Royals backup corner infielder and fourth outfielder respectively. That leaves Justin Maxwell, Carlos Peguero and Pedro Ciriaco in a battle for that final bench spot. Peguero has tremendous power, yet has not been able to show that he can hit at a major league level. Maxwell is the outfield version of Valencia; a player that can hit left handed pitching and hits for power, but struggles against right handed pitchers. Ciriaco is essentially another Emilio Bonifacio, capable of playing at a reasonable level all around the field and can contribute plenty of speed off the bench.
As it stands, if the Royals go with the traditional seven man bullpen, there will be one spot between those three players, with Christian Colon potentially in the mix as well. Right now, most people expect Maxwell to be traded at some point, possibly for a mid level prospect. However, if he is not, that battle is likely to come down to Maxwell and Ciriaco.
The decision to carry seven relievers could also have an impact upon the final Royals player that is out of options, Francisley Bueno. Bueno is competing to be the Royals second left handed pitcher in the bullpen, and also finds himself in a three way battle. However, if Bueno does not impress in Spring Training, and the other two candidates also struggle, the Royals may decide to work with a six man bullpen, at least for the first few weeks of the season.
The Kansas City Royals have plenty of decisions to make with their roster. Chances are, they are going to lose a player that they hoped to sneak through to the minors, just because they do not have any room for them at the major league level.