KC Royals: What Happens When Alex Gordon, Brett Eibner Return?
The KC Royals Brett Eibner and Alex Gordon are both in the midst of rehabing injuries that sent them both to the disabled list. With both players set to return soon from the DL, the KC Royals are going to have some decisions to make regarding the 25 man roster.
As it stands right now, the Royals 25 Man Roster has 12 pitchers, 2 catchers, 6 infielders (7 if you include Morales as another 1B), 4 outfielders, and Morales at DH/1B. Both returning players, Alex Gordon and Brett Eibner, are of course outfielders which begs the question: When the two of them return, how should Ned Yost and the KC Royals adjust the 25 man roster?
First of all, the KC Royals are going to keep at least 12 pitchers, sometimes 13 when they can add a 26th man, so obviously that half of the 25 man roster’s slot allocation is staying put. Also, the KC Royals have to carry two catchers so no touching Drew Butera. Which means that leaves the 6 infield, 4 outfield, and DH slots available to be shuffled a bit.
The other obvious untouchables are Hosmer, Cain, Escobar, and Cuthbert. The KC Royals aren’t releasing Morales either as he has mostly been snake bitten by bad luck and the shift, and if he can get it figured out, we all know what he can do. I think it is now safe to say Merrifield, are all at least somewhat untouchable right now as well.
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Despite Dyson’s struggles at the plate, Yost and the KC Royals want a speedster available off the bench if needed, and Dyson is at least the 3rd best outfielder on the Royals, maybe higher, so Dyson is staying. Orlando is also a pretty good defender and playing well, and adds speed off the bench like Dyson so he is staying put.
So that leaves Christian Colon, Omar Infante, and Reymond Fuentes as the potential odd men out. I think the most obvious move is sending Fuentes back down to AAA for Gordon. They both bat LH, and while Fuentes looks like a better hitter than Dyson, when Gordon comes back Dyson will go back to being a defensive and base running role player for the most part so it would be better for both Fuentes and the Royals if Fuentes went back to AAA.
The next question is then do the KC Royals want Eibner, Colon, or Infante on the 25 man roster? My impression is that Infante should be released in favor of Eibner, and Colon stays. [Note: Dayton Moore apparently agreed, since he DFA’d Infante on Wednesday] I understand that Eibner would be a fifth outfielder which the KC Royals don’t necessarily need. But really, Infante isn’t an IF like Colon, Cuthbert, Merrifield in that Infante’s limited range and arm are only serviceable at 2B. Whereas Colon can play 2B, 3B, and SS, as can Cuthbert and Merrifield.
The other thing keeping Eibner and dropping Infante would do is add a bench bat, which the KC Royals really never have. My starting lineup would then be, in order: 2B Merrifield, CF Cain, 1B Hosmer, C Perez, LF Gordon, RF Orlando, DH Morales, 3B Cuthbert, and SS Escobar.
The above lineup would leave Dyson, Colon and Eibner on the bench. Against LHP, Eibner could DH or give Gordon a day off in LF and Eibner provides a bat of the bench should someone like a struggling Dyson, or Escobar come up in a key situation late in the game.
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I know right now it doesn’t seem so, but cutting Infante is a gamble. While the initial results look good, the sample size on Merrifield is small. Also, Colon hasn’t exactly seized the opportunities he has had over the last couple of years to solidify his place as a solid starter. In other words, Infante hasn’t been good, but I would still rate him above AAAA, if only just above. However, I think it is a gamble worth taking.