Kansas City Royals: What to do with Cheslor Cuthbert?

ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 18: Cheslor Cuthbert
ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 18: Cheslor Cuthbert /

The Kansas City Royals are reaching a point where they are going to have to make some choices. Looking in the mirror, they are going to have to ask “where do certian players fit in the future of this team?”

Many current players on the Kansas City Royals find themselves in this situation. Not strictly because of ability, but also contract length and value. In fact, it isn’t hard to imagine that many of the Royals currently on the roster will be wearing a different uniform when the Royals are competing again. And no, it’s not because the Royals will be awful for another 30 years.

We could talk about players like Danny Duffy, Whit Merrifield, Salvador Perez, and maybe even Jorge Soler and discuss their long-term look with the Royals. Do they serve more value with the Royals, or as a trade chip that brings back prospects that could help accelerate the rebuild?

For this piece though, we are going to look at a player some might have forgotten about. Cheslor Cuthbert.

Where does Cheslor Cuthbert fit?

When looking at the makeup of the current team, it’s actually quite easy to find a spot for Cuthbert. The position with the biggest question mark moving forward, third base.

That was where he spent his time in 2016 when Mike Moustakas tore his ACL, and he had a decent amount of success. Over his 128 games, Cuthbert hit .274/.318/.413 with a wRC+ of 95 (just below the average mark of 100). He had 12 home runs and 28 doubles to go along with a surprising offensive season.

While offensively he had success, defensively he struggled. According to Fangraphs, Cuthbert had a -7.1 UZR at third base, which is considered to be way below average. Which shouldn’t be a surprise when you look at his .948 fielding percentage and 16 errors he committed at third base.

However, he was 23-years-old at the time, so perhaps youth and experience could be the culprit for the results.

Unfortunate Reality

Unfortunately for Cuthbert, 2016 seemed to be an anomaly. In 2017, Cuthbert hit .231/.275/.322 with two homeruns and seven doubles over 58 games. Then in 2018, Cuthbert hit .194/.282/.301 with three homeruns and two doubles over 30 games  Defensively he was better at third base, posting a -1.1 and 0.2 UZR. However, the offense just wasn’t there.

Now, you can claim that consistent playing time has something to do with the offensive numbers, and I would agree. The fact that he had the offensive production he did in 2016 with 128 consistent games played is a great argument. In 2017 he went to more of a bench player’s role with Moustakas coming back and had 23 games of the 58 he played where he came into the game late as a replacement of some kind. But 2018 is a different story.

In 2018, Cuthbert played consistently from April-May 14th before being put on the DL with a back strain. 2018 was by far his worst offensive season he’s had with the Royals, which couldn’t have come at a worse time for him.

Final Thoughts

Jeffery Flanagan wrote an article that suggests that this might be it for Cuthbert. If the Royals wanted, they could choose to non-tender Cuthbert this offseason, which would result in him being a free agent.

After seeing what happened in 2018, and taking 2017 into consideration even though it wasn’t consistent playing time, 2016 doesn’t seem like something he can replicate.

As the Royals continue to push for younger players with high-upside and continue rebuilding, they have to ask themselves a difficult question. Does Cuthbert fit with the future of the team? If the answer is anything but “yes” then they have to move on.

Keep in mind, moving on from Cuthbert isn’t a money saver. Contract wise, he would be making hardly anything compared to other players. This would strictly be based on his upside with the Royals future.

With the idea that the Royals will be competitive again in 2020/2021, holding onto a third baseman that struggles at the plate like Cuthbert has of late doesn’t make much sense. The Royals can use his 40-man spot to protect another player from the Rule-5 Draft (Foster Griffin hopefully), and Cuthbert can try again in a new environment/situation.

Royals Offseason Q&A. dark. Next

Again, if the Royals are truly serious about what direction they are going and being competitive sooner, rather than later, holding onto players they have doubts about will only prevent the necessary growth to achieve their goal. Cuthbert could be on the wrong side of the line and a player the Royals have doubts about.

What do you think Royals fans? Do you think it’s time to let Cuthbert go? Should the Royals give him another shot at third base? Let us know below!