Kansas City Royals: Impact of Mondesi’s injury has on Lopez and Whit

(Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images) /

The Kansas City Royals shortstop will need a recovery time of 5-6 months. Here’s how that impacts both Nicky Lopez and Whit Merrifield.

For the second time in two months, Adalberto Mondesi injured his left shoulder. The second occurrence determined that the Kansas City Royals shortstop would require surgery and a recovery time of 5-6 months. Looking ahead to 2020, the earliest he would return is March 1 and would align with the start of Spring Training if everything goes to plan.

If Mondesi has any setbacks or things take a little longer to get back to 100 percent, then his absence will extend into the start of the regular season. Let’s say he misses all of Spring Training, he would likely need to begin his season in the extended Spring Training league which would provide an enormous opportunity for Nicky Lopez to showcase his talents.

Lopez, 24, has been a mixed bag this season but really played well in the absence of Mondesi’s first shoulder injury. In the month of August, Lopez was essentially an everyday player for the Royals and batted 0.262 in 24 games. Similarly, he has thrived in this final month since Mondesi went down again. In his last 7 games, Lopez has an OPS of 1.315 and has displayed a much higher exit velocity than his season average.

He’ll be starting the Whit Merrifield diet and exercise program once the season concludes but hit a ball 102.2 mph into the right-centerfield gap on Wednesday night that resulted in a triple. Consider this. When Lopez hits line drives, he has a 305 wRC+. Where he struggles is with groundballs (34 wRC+) and flyballs (-40 wRC+). As you can imagine, his batting average is good on line-drive balls, 0.620 in fact for this year.

It will be so key for Lopez to add some weight to be able to develop the rest of his game at the plate. If he’s that good on line drives right now, I am very excited to see him with another 15-20 pounds of muscle next season. Speaking of the Whit diet, Mondesi’s injury basically ensures that Merrifield will not be traded this offseason. Several clubs had an interest in the versatile infielder at the trade deadline but General Manager Dayton Moore indicated that it would take a significant haul to part with him.

He’s been as steady as they come, leading the American League in hits last season (192) and is on pace to do so again this year. He would become the first right-handed batter to accomplish that feat since Kirby Puckett did so back in the 1988 and 1989 seasons. The Royals are not expected to be competitive next season and I could have seen a scenario in which they found a trade partner during the offseason but with Mondesi’s injury, there’s absolutely no chance they trade him.

Next. Why moving Mondesi to the outfield makes sense. dark

We’ll hope for the best on Mondesi’s recovery timetable but the Royals should plan for the worst. Luckily, they have an established player on the roster in Merrifield and a potential breakout player in Lopez next season to hold down the fort.