The long-term future at third base is a question mark for the KC Royals. According to one national outlet, it’s more so a huge toss-up.
Over the past few years, the KC Royals have been firmly stuck in the middle of a rebuild. Things are finally starting to look up and while the 2020 season won’t be much of a barometer for success, the future of the organization is beginning to take shape. Apparently, not everyone thinks that’s true.
Bleacher Report recently published an article predicting every team’s five-year plan at third base. The piece was broken down into four sections for each team: present, future, other notable prospects, then a five-year prediction. The present is pretty self-explanatory for Kansas City. General Manager Dayton Moore signed Maikel Franco to a one-year deal with the potential to turn into a two-year pact should the team like what it sees in 2020:
"“Since posting a 130 OPS+ with 14 home runs in 80 games as a rookie in 2015, he’s hit just .247/.299/.427 for an 89 OPS+ and 0.0 WAR over the last four seasons. A change of scenery could help jump-start his career, and if he does bounce back, he’s under team control through 2021.”"
Franco takes the cake for 2020 and 2021. Two seasons down, three more to go. The article also mentioned Hunter Dozier, who manned third base for Kansas City in 2018 and 2019. His bat projects well regardless of position, but he should be a much better defender now that he’s been moved to the outfield. With that said, B/R noted that he “could still wind up back at the hot corner at some point.” That was the case in their scenario, as Dozier fits into the plan for 2022.
Kelvin Gutierrez has a low ceiling as a player, but his floor is also relatively high. He boasts good potential defensively and while his raw power is quite unimpressive, his approach at the plate could make him an average player one day if things fall right.
He’ll turn 26 in a couple of months and is running out of time before people stop considering him a piece for the future. With that said, don’t rule him out just yet. While the article tipped its cap to Gutierrez, it also alluded to him being a backup in the future and predicted KC will go the free agency route for 2023 and 2024.
Emmanuel Rivera got name-dropped under “other notable prospects.” He could fit into the club’s plans at third base, but it seems like the team’s third baseman of the future is elsewhere, but still within the organization. Could Bobby Witt Jr. be shifted to third? What about recent draft pick Nick Loftin? His versatility and underrated power could play well there. With so many infielders fighting for a finite amount of spots, moving a shortstop over to third might make sense.
Although the future of the third base position is unknown for the KC Royals, it would be a surprise to see the team follow the plan B/R laid out. We won’t find out what happens for years so for now, all we can do is project.