Cuthbert Playing Second in Winter Ball
By Beau Eastes
Cheslor Cuthbert getting reps at second base in Nicaraguan League
In the interest of getting the best bats on the field for the Kansas City Royals in 2017, the Cheslor Cuthbert Second Base Experiment continues this offseason in Nicaragua.
The Kansas City Star reported today that Cuthbert, who hit 273 with a .318 on-base percentage and 12 homers in 127 games last year – all at third base – started at second Sunday for the Indios del Boer of the Nicaraguan League.
“I felt good at second base,” the Star reported Cuthbert saying after Sunday’s game to the Nicaraguan publication El Nuevo Diario. “Let’s see how it goes.”
With Mike Moustakas expected back after blowing out the ACL tendon in his right knee last season, Cuthbert is looking to get on the field any way possible. Earlier this week the Royals also suggested Cuthbert could see time at designated hitter.
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Lots of practice, little game action at second
The Royals have talked about Cuthbert gaining experience at second for several years, but he’s taken very few balls during live games on the other side of the infield. This past fall he spent time in the Arizona Instructional League learning the position, but in the minor leagues he logged all of three games at second.
The possibility of Cuthbert playing second is certainly appealing, though, as neither Whit Merrifield nor Raul Mondesi ran away with the job last year and this year’s crop of free agents at the position is extremely thin. The idea of Cuthbert as the team’s primary DH doesn’t exactly evoke optimism either as his on-base percentage (.315), slugging percentage (.409) and OPS (.724) all would have ranked dead last among the eight players who played the majority of their games at DH last year. Ideally, if the Royals believe Cuthbert can cut it at second, they’d be more inclined to sign another bat to DH.
Next: Looking at DH options for the Royals
Our quick take? We’re excited the idea of Cuthbert playing second didn’t die in Instructional League. His bat translates much better at second than it does at DH, but the Royals have rarely sacrificed defense – especially middle of the infield defense – for an offensive upgrade. Let’s hope Cuthbert, who posted a -0.9 defensive WAR at third this past season according to Baseball Reference, is at the very least just as mediocre at second as well.