The Kansas City Royals will have a much different look when they host the White Sox on March 29, 2018. As we head into an offseason of questions, here’s a preview of how the Opening Day roster could look.
Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Jason Vargas, Melky Cabrera and Mike Minor are all set to hit free agency. That means the future of the Kansas City Royals is up in the air, for now.
Everyone is going to have different opinions about which free agent(s) the Royals should re-sign this offseason. Everyone will have different opinions about who the Royals should call up to fill in for the departed.
Justin and I are going to take our best guesses at what next season’s roster is going to look like.
Position Players (13):
Position Players (12):
Hosmer, Merrifield, Mondesi, Cuthbert, Gordon, Bubba Starling, Bonifacio, Perez, Butera, Torres, Moss and Soler.
So, what conclusions can we make about the 2018 Royals roster?
- There are probably 18 roster spots that are 100 percent locked up—barring injuries or trades. Duffy, Kennedy, Hammel, Karns, Junis, Herrera, Soria, Alexander, Maurer, Buchter, Merrifield, Cuthbert, Gordon, Bonifacio, Perez, Butera, Moss, and Soler all seem to be guaranteed a spot on the Opening Day roster. All 18 of those players are under contract for at least 2018—if not beyond—and played an integral part in 2017. Unless one of those 18 players is traded or hurt, I can only see them being on the Opening Day roster.
- Eleven of the 14 starting spots appear filled. The three starting positions that don’t have definitive answers yet are first base, shortstop and center field. I still think that the Royals are going to retain Hosmer for first base. But if they decide to re-sign Escobar and push Mondesi to center field, I am going to need a therapist.
- The biggest roster battles will be to fill out the back of the bullpen and the bench. Most of the time during rebuilds, teams will have to hit the free agent market for cheap fill-ins and look to three or four rookies to fill out the roster. The Kansas City Royals are in a really good spot for a rebuild. They already have most of their roster filled out. They don’t need to go out and spend a ton of money on free agents that aren’t already on the 2017 roster.
- Is Minor out the door? Neither Justin nor I see a future in which Minor is a Royal. He has a mutual option for 2018 for $10 million, which the Royals almost certainly will pass on. The hope was that Minor would be able to start again. But he has proved incredibly valuable in the bullpen. Minor will probably draw a lot of attention this offseason. Meanwhile, the Royals have left-handed options in Omaha that would be much cheaper than re-signing Minor.
How Long Will the Rebuild Take?
This Kansas City Royals’ rebuild definitely won’t be as fast as the ones by the Cubs or Astros. But it won’t be as brutal as the ones of the Padres or Giants either. The Royals have some good pieces in place that ought to keep the team competitive enough until the younger prospects like Nick Pratto and Khalil Lee are ready to arrive in Kansas City.
Plus, with the new TV deal coming in 2019, the Kansas City Royals ought to have some extra cash headed their way. They could use that to pick up an extra free agent or two to shorten the rebuild even further.
The Royals more than likely won’t be competing for the playoffs in 2018. But with the entire rotation coming back—and the Minnesota Twins making the playoffs this year after losing 103 games in 2016—don’t say the word “impossible” either.
(Editor’s note: Justin Jones contributed to this post.)