The Royals will have plenty to talk about over the offseason, and moving players around the field may be one of the hot topics.
After the most recent stretch of road losses, the KC Royals are likely fully looking toward the offseason and what changes might have to be made. The chances of reaching the postseason have been reduced to a slight mathematical chance that would require a lot of winning from Kansas City, and a lot of loosing from the rest of the American League.
While it’s unfortunate, it’s not entirely unexpected. This season for the Royals was one that held possibility, but more than likely would be full of debuts, experiments and knowledge seeking. These things are what the Royals really needed out of this shortened 2020 season, a chance to see what they currently have, and what they may need to shop around for to compete in 2021.
Going into the offseason, as usual, the main conversation will likely be focused around which areas are good to go, and which need to improve.
The outfield should be an area of talk. The Royals are unlikely to add anyone to the outfield over the offseason, other than maybe bringing Alex Gordon back if that counts. The outfield is currently stacked even if with Gordon not in the mix, with the likes of Whit Merrifield, Hunter Dozier, Bubba Starling, Edward Olivares, Nick Heath, Khalil Lee, Kyle Isbel, and even some others that could be brought into the conversation.
Figuring out what to do about the mess of players there will be a priority, and for the Royals, a glimpse at future plans may have already been seen in 2020.
Hunter Dozier entered 2020 as the assumed right fielder after Maikel Franco was brought in to take over at third. Dozier had shown he had the versatility to move to the outfield and there was thought that it could give him more of a chance to focus on his offense.
So far, though, Dozier has seen a different role for almost half of the season. Dozier has started at first base 17 times and played there during 21 games. He hasn’t made any errors while he’s been at first and has presented a good argument for sticking at the spot in the future.
Recently, Jeffrey Flanagan provided some content on this idea that included some dialogue from manager Mike Matheny.
"“I’d say potential Gold Glove there,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said, of Dozier at first base. “I’d say the way he moves — he’s got some shortstop instincts, and he’s got that one-step quickness of a third baseman. We’ve seen him dive, we’ve seen him use his hands … sure looks good there.”"
There has still not been any concrete answers as to whether this move will be permanent or not. The move could simply be to get a better view of the outfield situation in the small number of games remaining. Things could also change depending on whether or not Gordon does return for another season.
Dozier’s versatility will go a long way in Kansas City though. The Royals covet players who can move around the field like Whit Merrifield and Dozier is one bat they like to keep in the lineup.
As for the other possible first basemen Ryan O’Hearn and Ryan McBroom, both have minor league options, so the club might not be too worried about having to start next season down in the minors or in a reserve role. O’Hearn cold play a bench role and take over if Dozier is needed in the outfield. McBroom offers even more versatility in an ability to play the outfield and pinch-hit well.
There are still plenty of decisions for the Royals to make concerning each position for 2021, but the extended time Dozier has seen at first base this season raises some questions about his future in the outfield.
Hunter Dozier has seen more time at first base as the season has progressed. Whether this is to clear some room for prospect looks in the outfield, or a look at the future, only time will tell.