KC Royals manager Ned Yost told MLB.com reporter Jeffrey Flanagan that he thinks Cheslor Cuthbert has the athleticism to play second base.
Flanagan noted this little fact while answering a question from Twitter Thursday morning in his column on the Kansas City Royals official team website. Flanagan went on to speculate that Cuthbert is likely to get sent down to AAA Omaha when Mike Moustakas returns to the roster from the 15-day disabled list.
Flanagan believes the 23-year-old Cuthbert will play second base for the Stormchasers, with third baseman Hunter Dozier‘s recent promotion to Omaha.
The move would be a serious blow to 27-year-old Christian Colon‘s future in the organization. Colon had played extensively in the past week at second base in Kansas City while manager Ned Yost sought better production over the still struggling Omar Infante. The KC Royals abruptly sent Colon to Omaha between games in the double-header against Boston on Wednesday, and called up versatile utility man Whit Merrifield in his place. The team also designated outfielder Jose Martinez for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.
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If the 27-year-old Merrifield is the Kansas City Royals best utility player, and the organization starts grooming Cheslor Cuthbert to take over at second base, that leaves no role for Christian Colon at the major-league level.
Of course, Merrifield could bust at the plate or Cuthbert could find it difficult to learn the necessary footwork to man second base. In that case, Colon could find himself back on the KC Royals roster. Even so, Wednesday’s demotion is a measure of Colon’s decline within the organization. Colon joined the Kansas City Royals as the no. 4 overall pick in the 2010 draft. Merrifield joined the KC Royals as the 9th round pick from the same draft.
Now, Merrifield has surpassed Colon in the eyes of the front office, with Cheslor Cuthbert possibly moving to a middle-infield position.
Yet, it’s hard to question the Kansas City Royals reasoning. Cheslor Cuthbert looks ready for a major-league job and second base has been a black hole for the organization ever since Mark Grudzielanek left after the 2008 season. Cuthbert is showing excellent range and good hands at third base, and would swing a heavy bat for a second baseman.
Though Cuthbert’s current slash line of .255/.271/.383 doesn’t look much better than Colon’s .250/.313/.295, Cuthbert has flashed a quick bat that has more pop than Colon. Cuthbert is also 23 years old so has more perceived upside at this point in their careers.
Don’t be surprised if the KC Royals include Christian Colon in a trade package in a deadline deal. Colon has shown the ability to come off the bench and get hits in key situations, such as his singles in the 2014 Wild Card game and game 5 of the 2015 World Series, which could make him an attractive utility option for some teams.