The Royals are in the market for a utility infielder, a low-cost starter, and a reliever before the 2017 season begins.
Boston Globe sportswriter Nick Cafardo’s sources indicate that the Kansas City Royals have the above three items remaining on their winter shopping list. He also doubts that the KC Royals will make another trade before the season begins.
Of the three, the one that most surprises me is the need for a utility infielder. Since Whit Merrifield can play every position on the field except catcher, it seems that general manager Dayton Moore expects him to win the starting second base job. Further, this desire indicates that Cheslor Cuthbert‘s performance at second base in winter ball hasn’t convinced the team that he can start at the position.
Finally, this desire seems to be an indictment of former no. 4 overall draft pick Christian Colon. Soon to turn 28-years-old, Colon is often cited as a candidate to win the second base job along with Merrifield and Cuthbert. However, he’s also appeared on the Royals roster as a utility man the last two seasons. If he doesn’t win the job at second, the team’s search for a utility man doesn’t bode well for his major-league future.
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I wouldn’t attach too much significance to Moore’s reported desire for another starting pitcher. As the roster stands now, Kansas City has eight starting candidates: Danny Duffy, Yordano Ventura, Ian Kennedy, Jason Vargas, Mike Minor, Kyle Zimmer, Chris Young, and Matt Strahm.
The problem is that Young was awful last season. Mike Minor suffered multiple setbacks in his return from Tommy John surgery when he was expected to return in June. Instead, he missed the entire year. Meanwhile, Kyle Zimmer had thoracic outlet syndrome surgery and hasn’t pitched more than 100 innings since 2013. Oh, yeah, and Strahm is a rookie with only 22.0 innings of major-league experience. No wonder Dayton Moore wants to add a reliable innings-eater.
The need for another bullpen arm isn’t really surprising. The KC Royals have a number of hopeful young arms that could help out on the back end like Josh Staumont, Matt Strahm (if he doesn’t start), Alec Mills, and Andrew Edwards. But, I’m sure Moore doesn’t want to rely on any of them in 2017. The most likely veteran candidate for the relief arm is the long-rumored deal with Peter Moylan.
If Cafardo is right, the 2017 Royals will only see minor additions before the 2017 season starts.