Nuts and bolts: KC Royals minor league player options

(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /
4 of 5
KC Royals,
KC Royals, /

KC Royals with only one option left may influence who wins bullpen jobs. Others don’t need to worry much about options.

With at least 15 pitchers fighting for shares of limited bullpen space, minor league options give manager Mike Matheny much-needed flexibility. New roster rules limit Matheny and the KC Royals to 13 pitchers; five of those will be starters and Ian Kennedy, Scott Barlow, Tim Hill and Jorge Lopez are probably bullpen locks, leaving just four spots up for grabs.

The competition is close. Veterans Greg Holland and Trevor Rosenthal, both striving to recapture past dominance, have been stellar and Josh Staumont. Jake Newberry, Glenn Sparkman and Richard Lovelady have all pitched well. Randy Rosario has looked good but has no options. And Kyle Zimmer and Kevin McCarthy are definitely in the mix. Making room for even four of those nine (assuming they all continue to impress and he wants them) will force Matheny to use minor league options.

The Royals could option Zimmer, whose new option permits them to give him additional beneficial work, under less pressure, at Omaha; McCarthy’s option allows him to start the season there if necessary. Chance Adams, Braden Shipley, Conner Greene and Heath Fillmyer also have an option left.

Eric Skoglund‘s only spring appearance didn’t go well–he gave up three hits and three runs in two-thirds of an inning, a performance that, combined with his poor major league history and any future bad spring outings, may render his one option irrelevant. The Royals may not be willing to invest any more in him without soon seeing signs of improvement.

Although catcher Salvador Perez has returned after recuperating all last season from surgery and appears in fine form, making sure he has adequate backup is a priority. The primary candidates are internal–Cam Gallagher and Meibrys Viloria–the club can elect to keep only one and choose either because they both have an option left.

Hunter Dozier also has an option. It is one unlikely, of course, to be used.