Even if the 2020 MLB regular season happens at some point, it will still have come at the expense of crucial development time for the KC Royals.
As MLB continues to think of ideas for a potential start to the 2020 regular season, the KC Royals are going to be hit as hard as any team. This set of circumstances is far from ideal for anyone, but teams emphasizing the development of younger players are robbed of that time.
Veterans like Whit Merrifield, Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez will be fine. Even guys like Jorge Soler and Hunter Dozier, whose 2019 seasons cemented their spots on the team long-term, don’t need a ton of live reps to be ready. Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy and others are what they are at this point. On the other hand, many youngsters and unproven players were counting on a full slate of games to showcase their talents.
Second baseman Nicky Lopez hit .240 in his rookie season. He then put on a ton of muscle over the offseason and was having a much, much better spring. Many believed he was poised for a breakout with a complete 2020 schedule to improve. Instead, Lopez risks losing the momentum he created in spring training and won’t be used to the grind of a 162-game season until 2021.
Third baseman Maikel Franco came over from Philadelphia in the offseason as a free agent acquisition. 2020 was supposed to be the year he either finally put everything together or flopped. Now, his age-27 season will be cut short (and still may not happen at all).
One of the main reasons folks are still holding out any semblance of hope in regards to Brett Phillips and/or Bubba Starling: a lack of consistent playing time. With fewer games to play this year, that could remain a disadvantage for both players. They’re both out of options and are facing tons of pressure to secure full-time positions.
Jakob Junis is facing a career crossroads. Brad Keller is an ascending young pitcher. Both need playing time. Guys like Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar, Daniel Lynch and Kris Bubic were on track to join the major league team either later in 2020 or early in 2021. Is that timeline now going to be pushed back?
Every organization needs to develop its young players, but the franchises with more youth than others will suffer the most from this. As the Royals usher in a new era under owner John Sherman and manager Mike Matheny, the youth movement may be delayed by a bit. It isn’t a huge deal, but it’s an unfortunate side effect of not being able to play games as of right now.
Hopefully, we’ll see a solution soon and games will begin in June or July. Until then, all the KC Royals can do is hope their players are making progress from home.