Predicting the Royals 2018 Starting Lineup

May 11, 2017; St. Petersburg, FL, USA;Kansas City Royals left fielder Jorge Bonifacio (38), center fielder Alex Gordon (4), right fielder Jorge Soler (12) congratulate each other after they beat the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Kansas City Royals defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 6-0. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
May 11, 2017; St. Petersburg, FL, USA;Kansas City Royals left fielder Jorge Bonifacio (38), center fielder Alex Gordon (4), right fielder Jorge Soler (12) congratulate each other after they beat the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Kansas City Royals defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 6-0. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

With the upcoming fire-sale at the trade deadline, or at best at the end of the season, the KC Royals will most certainly lose most of their current starters before the start of the 2018 season. As I’m sure you’ve heard before, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, and Alcides Escobar will all be set to hit free agency at the end of the year.

With the extremely poor start the KC Royals have been having in 2017, it has been well documented that the KC Royals are in the best position to sell in order to gain some prospects for their valuable soon to be free agents. It should also be well-known by now that the KC Royals cannot sign all of these players back because they are too expensive for the mediocre payroll the Royals currently have.

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With that said, it is hard to say what type of players the Royals will gain in return for their 4 month rentals. When the Royals acquired Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist they gave up five pretty high pitching prospects including Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb, and Sean Manaea. I would expect the KC Royals to gain back even more, if they did indeed trade Hosmer and Cain. Jason Vargas is also a potential trade target that could end up being a big win for Kansas City if he continues to pitch well.

However, I expect much of the returns to be prospects, and with that, they will be just that; prospects. So I don’t see the Royals receiving a lot of immediate help if they trade their players in July. I do expect however that most of these returns will help the ball club win in 2019 and beyond.

In 2018 however, the vision is not so clear. Many players in the minor leagues might have a chance to play and prove themselves in a year that seems will be a down year for Kansas City. One thing is clear however, the Royals will run out players with zero Major League experience next season, and often. 

I will start first by predicting the position players and then I will move on to the pitching rotation and bullpen.  

Position Players

Potential Departures: Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar

Catcher: Salvador Perez

1st Base: Ryan O’Hearn

2nd Base: Whit Merrifield

Shortstop: Raul Mondesi

3rd Base: Mike Moustakas

Left Field: Jorge Bonifacio

Center Field: Alex Gordon

Right Field: Jorge Soler

Designated Hitter: Brandon Moss

I have a couple of things to say here. I think the Royals will sign back Moustakas as you can see above, but I also think the KC Royals will try to sign back Cain with all of their power. Without Cain, the KC Royals have a major hole in center that will either have to be filled by Alex Gordon, Billy Burns, or even Bubba Starling. Like most of you, I would much rather have Cain in center and Gordon in left for the next two seasons, but Cain will draw a lot of interest from teams around the league. The Royals had placed Gordon in center during a series in Tampa Bay, and that could be a sign for the future

The Royals have absolutely no chance at signing Hosmer, and Escobar’s bat will make him a target to stay away from. I also think it should be noted that if the Royals do plan on retaining Moustakas, you could see a small trade for Cheslor Cuthbert as the Royals don’t really have a place for him on the current roster. 

Ryan O’Hearn has been doing his fair share of work in Triple A and could be Major League ready by the time Hosmer leaves. Raul Mondesi might continue to struggle at the plate, but not any worse than Escobar at the moment. Jorge Bonifacio has easily played himself into the starting lineup and should be an everyday starter next season if Cain does indeed leave. With the position players finished, it is time to take a look at the pitching staff for next season.

Pitching Staff

Potential Departures: Jason Vargas. Chris Young, Mike Minor, Sean Maness, Peter Moyland, Ian Kennedy (opt out)

Obviously, the Royals could be losing a big chunk of their pitching staff this upcoming season and this is how I see it playing out.

Starting Five:

  1. Danny Duffy
  2. Ian Kennedy
  3. Jason Hammel
  4. Miguel Almonte
  5. Kyle Zimmer – Probably Nathan Karns


(CL) Kelvin Herrera

(8) Joakim Soria

(7) Matt Straham

Travis Wood

Mike Minor

Jake Junis

Chris Withrow

Scott Alexander
Surprise! I am going to be the first that says I don’t think Herrera should, or will be traded. The already depleted bullpen would become lifeless without Herrera holding it down at the end. If the Royals were to ship off Hererra, Soria becomes the closer but everything else would be foggy. Especially for the future, the Royals do not have an immediate player to fill the gap that the KC Royals would cause by trading Herrera.

Josh Staumont and Eric Stout just miss the cut in the pen. I am hoping for a healthy season from Zimmer that will help him finally see the Majors when the Royals have a hole in the rotation. I expect the top three in the rotation and bullpen to stay mainly the same, but a big change at the back-end of each. Alexander, Junis, and Almonte have all seen a fair amount of time in the Majors and could help a struggling bullpen next season. Any of these players should perform better than Young and young talent should only continue to improve throughout the season.

A lot of this also has to do with who the KC Royals would trade and receive if that were to happen. At the moment, these predictions only deal with the Royals current farm system and don’t have a role in any potential newcomers.


To me, this team is a lot less talented than the current one. Maybe a way too early prediction could be around 70-92. The young rotation could struggle to find their place in their first year in the Majors.

"KC Royals Potential Departures, Vol. 7: Breaking Up"

In addition, with an already struggling offense, adding even younger bats to the lineup could prove to be a disaster in 2018. A long year at the plate or even a long season in general, might be ahead of us for the Royals in 2018. 

If I missed a player or you have a different opinion than me, feel free to call me out in the comments.