Kansas City Royals: What to do with the outfield logjam
It’s never to early to start looking at the depth of certain areas for the Kansas City Royals. For this article, we are going to focus on the logjam the Royals are going to be working with when dealing with the outfield.
Before the Winter Meetings, the Kansas City Royals already had a full outfield. With Alex Gordon, Brian Goodwin, Brett Phillips, Jorge Bonifacio, Jorge Soler, Rosell Herrera, Whit Merrifield, Ryan O’Hearn, and Hunter Dozier all being options to play the outfield.
Since then, the Royals have made some moves to make “room”. I put that in quotes because I don’t know if they really made room as much as clouded the possible options more.
The Royals have since released Herrera, signed Billy Hamilton and Chris Owings, and brought back Terrance Gore on a possible major league contract.
Which looking at this, I’m not sure how much help they’ve actually done to clear up the logjam. So let’s try and make some sense of everything they’ve done so far.
Let’s first eliminate some of the options.
- The Royals are playing Gordon, so the discussion around him being a bench player or anything other than a starter is not really necessary. So left field is locked up.
- Since the Royals aren’t going to trade Merrifield anymore, putting him at second base every day seems to be the only logical move for him. Occasionally he could be played in the outfield, but that won’t be very often.
- Both Dozier and O’Hearn can play the outfield, but since the Royals don’t have a first baseman or third baseman on the roster, besides Cheslor Cuthbert, that seems to be where those two will be located.
- Owings seems to be the super utility player the Royals will use throughout the year, and perhaps hope to flip him in July for a prospect or two. Similar to what they used Herrera as towards the end of the year, which is why they were able to release Herrera.
Eliminating Gordon, Merrifield, Dozier, O’Hearn, Owings, and Herrera would typically alleviate the logjam, but it actually did very little. The Royals still have Goodwin, Bonifacio, Soler, Phillips, Gore, and Hamilton to organize now.
What to do with everyone else?
With left field already solidified, center field and right field are still up for grabs. As it currently stands, according to MLB.com the Royals have Hamilton and Bonifacio as the starting center fielder and right fielder. Phillips is the number one backup for both positions, while Goodwin is the third option for center field. Soler is listed as the Royals designated hitter too.
Which looks like they have everything figured out, minus what they are actually going to do with Gore. However, I personally have some adjustments I would make.
First off, I wouldn’t make Phillips a backup. The only way the Royals can tell what kind of player Phillips is going to be is to play him every day. Similar to Adalberto Mondesi, Phillips needs consistent playing time. Obviously, the Royals didn’t bring Hamilton in to be a bench player, so center field seems to be where he will land. Therefore, Phillips will replace Bonifacio as the starter at right field.
Next, I would send Gore to Omaha. Keeping him on the 25-man roster seems counterproductive since he isn’t productive at the plate, and his big attribute is running the bases. Keeping a pinch runner on a 25-man roster when it’s not playoff baseball makes little sense.
That leaves finding a spot for Goodwin and Bonifacio. While I don’t think last year is a good representation as to what Bonifacio can do offensively, I would personally keep Goodwin over him. Before the start of the season, the Royals could find a trading partner for Bonifacio to bring in a low-risk/high-reward type prospect or put him in Omaha since he does have an option left.
The Royals have made some interesting signings this offseason. Getting Owings showed that Herrera wasn’t long for Kansas City, and the move isn’t totally unreasonable. Especially if they can flip him in July. Neither Herrera or Owings are future pieces, so if they could get a prospect or two in return for Owings then it’s a success.
The confusing part for me is signing Hamilton and Gore to a major/minor league contract. The only logical explanation for why the Royals would create a logjam in the outfield is because they want to try and flip them at the deadline. A team in contention will want a baserunning specialist like Gore, however, the return for him would be a low-end prospect or money. Hamilton could bring a decent return of prospects depending on how he performs offensively.
The big picture in all of this is future contributions on the field. Of the group of current outfielders, only one looks to be a future contributor, and that is Phillips. Which is why I think it is crucial that he plays every day, rather than occasionally/in Omaha.
If he doesn’t start the year in Kansas City, he will more than likely finish the year in Kansas City. Just like Mondesi, the time has come to see what he can do and if he is truly a member of the future wave.
So what do you think Royals fans? How do you foresee the Royals outfield laying out? Let us know below!