Kansas City Royals Enter Spring Training As Underdogs
By John Viril
<img class="size-full wp-image-70997" src="https://kingsofkauffman.com/wp-content/uploads/usat-images/2016/04/9730073-mlb-winter-meetings.jpeg" alt="Dec 7, 2016; National Harbor, MD, USA; Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore speaks with the media after announcing a trade of relief pitcherWade Davis
for outfielderJorge Soler
(both not pictured) on day three of the 2016 Baseball Winter Meetings at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports” width=”2742″ height=”1828″ /> Dec 7, 2016; National Harbor, MD, USA; Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore speaks with the media after announcing a trade of relief pitcher Wade Davis for outfielder Jorge Soler (both not pictured) on day three of the 2016 Baseball Winter Meetings at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Dayton Moore Built A Roster With Depth
The big thing that the 2017 Royals have going for them is depth. Dayton Moore is well aware his core is aging and acquired plenty of veteran backups at every position. There are four players jousting for the starting second base job. While Raul Mondesi will likely head to AAA Omaha to play full time if he fails to win the starting gig, Whit Merrifield, Christian Colon, and Cheslor Cuthbert can also fill in as infield backups.
A horde of players can man outfield spots. Along with fourth outfielder Paulo Orlando and the speedy Billy Burns who will spell Cain in center field, Brandon Moss can play in the corners as well as Whit Merrifield. Moss and AAA veteran Peter O’Brien can also play first base. While the KC Royals probably can’t withstand long-term injuries to core players like Hosmer, Moustakas, Cain, catcher Salvdor Perez, and Alex Gordon, they have ample seasoned reserves to fill in for a hurting veteran.
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The starting rotation also sports good depth despite only middling overall quality. Behind the top four of Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, Jason Hammel, and Jason Vargas, Ned Yost has experienced starters in Chris Young, Travis Wood, and Nathan Karns. Rookie relief find Matt Strahm and perennially injured prospect Kyle Zimmer could also figure into the rotation mix with strong spring showings.
To me, the biggest question mark is the bullpen. Right now, it’s hard to project how it will shake out. Kelvin Herrera is set as the new closer with hopes that Joakim Soria can overcome a poor 2016 to handle a set-up role. Beyond those two, the rest of the pen is up in the air. The final shape will depend on who wins the no. 5 rotation role. Presumably, the other four candidates will contest for bullpen spots.
Dayton Moore has also brought in a horde of veteran reclamation projects in Mike Minor, Brandon League, Bobby Parnell, Al Alburquerque, Jonathan Sanchez, Chris Withrow, and Seth Maness. Behind them sit minor league hopefuls like top prospect Josh Staumont whose fastball routinely touches 100 mph, Miguel Almonte, and big armed AAA closer Andrew Edwards.