KC Royals: What Will KC Do With Cheslor Cuthbert In 2017?
KC Royals rookie third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert has established himself as a viable major-league regular after Mike Moustakas’ season-ending injury. What will the front office do with him in 2017 when Moose returns?
That’s a question that I get pretty frequently from my Twitter followers. Honestly, the query always surprises me because the answer is really pretty obvious with 32-year-old designated hitter Kendrys Morales scheduled to become a free agent in 2017.
Chelsor Cuthbert has torn up the American League since the All-Star break, slashing an impressive .336/.383/.491. For the season, Cuthbert is hitting .301/. 336/.459 with 18 doubles, 10 home runs, and 37 RBIs in 337 plate appearances in 2016. He ranks fourth among American League rookies with a .795 OPS, trailing only Cleveland’s Tyler Naquin (.954), Texas’ Max Kepler (.848), and Baltimore’s Hyun Soo Kim (.821).
If Cuthbert can continue his hot hitting through the end of the season, he just might win the AL Rookie-Of-The-Year award.
More from Kings of Kauffman
- Grading the 2022 KC Royals: Infielder Nicky Lopez
- New pitching coach looks like a good fit for KC Royals
- Grading the 2022 KC Royals: Second baseman Michael Massey
- KC Royals Free Agent Hunt: Look to Texas for help?
- KC Royals Hot Stove News: Trades, signings, more
The most obvious solution would be to turn the designated hitter position into a rotating slot filled by various players on any given day. Manager Ned Yost could then rotate starters though the DH position to give players rest, while inserting backups to play in the field. Cuthbert and Moustakas would make a nice tandem at third base since they hit from the opposite sides of the plate.
The eye test, however, tells you that Cuthbert’s defensive ability would be wasted by using him as a DH. On the other hand, defensive metrics like UZR and dWAR both rate Cuthbert as below-average at third base in 2016. At this point, I’m doubting those metrics. Cuthbert put up strongly positive defense in his limited appearances with the KC Royals in 2015. And, the sabermetric community insists that defensive metrics need three years of data to become reliable.
The Kansas City Royals front office believes that Cuthbert can play multiple positions at the major-league level, including second base. The team could choose to convert him to a bat-first keystone player, if rookies Raul Mondesi and Whit Merrifield don’t improve on offense in 2017.
The third base position is complicated by Mike Moustakas‘ impending free agency and AAA third baseman Hunter Dozier‘s strong season. The KC Royals believe that Dozier is close to major-league ready and will need to find someplace to play him.
Dozier is playing some right field and first base in addition to third at AAA Omaha. He could figure in the DH mix in 2017.
Whatever the KC Royals decide, I doubt Cheslor Cuthbert is going anywhere. His ability to adjust after an early slump has been impressive, and Kansas City hitting coach Dale Sveum has applauded Cuthbert’s “coachability”.
KC Royals super-blogger Rany Jazayerli pretty much sums up why fans can expect the front-office to resist the idea of dealing Cuthbert—even if they manage to sign Moustakas to a long-term deal. Cuthbert has been taking better at bats as the season progresses. He has matured as a hitter quicker than more celebrated predecessors like Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas.
Next: Royals Report: Dillon Gee Runs Out Of Gas
With lineup stalwarts Hosmer, Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, and Alcides Escobar slated to hit free agency after the 2017 season, the Kansas City Royals need all the bats they can get. Even if they might have some difficulty finding places for everyone to play in 2017, they’re not going anywhere.