KC Royals: Four outside-the-box ideas for Kansas City in ’17


Royals must get creative to find ways to compete for a playoff spot in 2017.

The American League Central figures to again be a dogfight in 2017.

In addition to signing slugger Edwin Encarnacion, the AL pennant-winning Cleveland Indians (94-67 in 2016) look to get back Michael Brantley, one of the game’s best all-around outfielders when healthy.

Detroit (86-75) never went into rebuild mode and may have discovered an ace to eventually succeed Justin Verlander in AL Rookie of the Year Michael Fulmer.

Kansas City (81-81) has made several moves of note – see Jorge Soler and Nate Karns – but is it enough to make up the 13 1/2 games the Royals finished behind Cleveland?

Here’s four outside-the-box ideas Kansas City should consider heading into the season:

Yes, the 31-year-old Valbuena has spent most of his big league career at third and first. But he came up as a middle infielder and has played 209 games in the majors at second. Maybe the most underrated player still on the open market, Valbuena hit .260 with 13 home runs and a .341 OBP in 90 games last year. (He had season-ending hamstring surgery in August.) In 2015, he hit .224 – but with a .310 OBP – and 25 homers in 132 games.

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Over the past two years, Valbuena has been worth 4.7 bWAR. He’s still on the market because no one needs a third baseman. Ideally, the Royals could convince Valbuena to switch positions and come to Kansas City on a deal a shade under the two-year, $14 million that Major League Trade Rumors predicted at the start of the offseason.

  • Accelerate Josh Staumont‘s MLB arrival and put him in the bullpen

Arguably the Royals prospect with the highest upside, Staumont is a 23-year-old right-hander who routinely hits triple digits on the radar gun. But he’s also just two years removed from pitching at NAIA Azusa Pacific, he’s never thrown above Double A and last year he walked 104 batters in 123 1/3 innings.

But he also struck out 167 hitters in those same 123 1/3 frames. No it’s not ideal, but Staumount could be a valuable bullpen piece for the Royals in 2017, helping bridge the gap between Kansas City starters and new closer Kelvin Herrera.

This really isn’t that outlandish of an idea. Despite a bit of an off year from Cain last season, he still posted an on-base percentage of .339, the best mark on the team behind Jarrod Dyson’s .340 mark.

Cain’s never been a classic No. 3 hitter, but he’s easily the Royals’ best all-around bat. So why not get him as many at-bats as possible?

In just 128 games last year, the left-handed hitting Moss clubbed 28 home runs for the Cardinals. He’s currently unemployed as the glut of sluggers on the free agent market has worked against him.

Next: The best fits for the Royals among the remaining free agents

Moss did almost all of his damage against right-handed pitching in 2016, hitting 25 of his 28 homers against righties. If the Royals could sign him to an incentive-laden deal, Moss might make the person platoon buddy with newly acquired Pete O’Brien, who hits from the right side of the plate.