Projecting the KC Royals’ Opening Day starting lineup

KC Royals, Whit Merrifield (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
KC Royals, Whit Merrifield (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /
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KC Royals, Maikel Franco
(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

Third base: Maikel Franco

Maikel Franco is the newest face in the lineup, as he came over on a one-year contract in the offseason. He could possibly be a candidate for a midseason trade if he plays well but other than that, it appears he’ll hold down duties at third base for the KC Royals in 2020.

Franco had arguably his best season as a pro in 2018, posting a .270/.314/.467 line while launching 22 balls out of the park. He ended the 2019 season with 17 home runs and his batting average dropped to .234. Instead of hitting the free agent market with some momentum, he had to take a “prove-it” deal.

Franco could have a solid 2020. He’s not facing a ton of pressure and seems content with his current situation with the Royals. The team moved Hunter Dozier to right field so Franco could receive near-daily playing time. Opportunity will be on his side.

On top of that, he’s got some good raw power. Could we see a Soler-like breakout from Franco? Probably not. But could he turn in a good season and generate both some trade value and maybe a bit of free agent buzz? Absolutely.

Franco’s defense is a sore spot, but it’s not like Dozier was a worldbeater at the hot corner, either. He seems to have a solid grasp on what he is at this point in his career and as he turns 28 midseason, he should be right in the middle of his prime as a player.