It’s likely the KC Royals know who will be sitting at first base full time, but the backup spot could be an interesting story for a few years.
Things should start to kick off soon around all of baseball and teams will begin signing free agents and working out deals with current players. While many might want the KC Royals to get aggressive on the market this year, if it’s like most offseasons, they will stay quiet.
Little is known about how new ownership will handle things, so there is always a chance for some surprise signings, but as most Royals fans know, it’s best to not get hopes up.
For the most part, the Royals seem fairly set with their lineup. They like all of the players they have in the infield, they will be holding auditions in spring training and through the 2021 season for long term outfield spots, and their young pitchers will be up soon.
What may be more interesting to watch throughout the offseason and spring training is some of the battles for backup spots, first base in particular.
It looks as though the Royals are set on Hunter Dozier for play first base full time. While he was set to make the move to the outfield in 2020, he ended the season playing a majority of his games at first. He had a bit of a down year offensively, but still saw a decent on-base percentage and is a likely candidate for a bounce-back in 2021.
With Dozier at first, both of the 2020 first base frontrunners are for the moment displaced, set to either be a backup or find a new job. Luckily for the Royals, and the Ryans, both Ryan O’Hearn and Ryan McBroom have minor league options left, allowing for some flexibility.
Still, if the Royals are high on both players, they will have to figure out what to do with them. For O’Hearn, things may be a bit tricky. He is primarily a first baseman. He has some minor league experience in the outfield, but not much more than to justify placing him there out of necessity.
It’s unlikely the Royals would try and move him to more of an outfield role anyway. There are plenty of young outfielders in the organization and there is no reason to add more to the pile.
For Ryan McBroom, there is a bit more flexibility. He has more experience playing the outfield, and he has also shown that he can be a productive pinch hitter. While he may be in for a bigger job in the future, for now, the Royals may see him as a perfect bench player as he can move around more as needed.
For these reasons, it’s easy to think that McBroom and O’Hearn will both start the year on the bench, but O’Hearn could also see time in the minors to begin the season. His offensive production has declined and some continued work without the pressure of the majors could be a good thing.
Given another year or so, though, and the story gets even more interesting. Prospect Nick Pratto made some progress during his time at the alternate training site.
There were concerns with his offense after a bad year at the plate in 2019. Word from the alternate site, though, is that he improved greatly and is an even better hitter than he was before. Pratto has never played above A+ ball and while the Royals will likely want to see more out of him, he could enter the chat sooner rather than later.
2021 may not be as critical as some seasons as both seemingly back up first basemen have options, but if the Royals don’t figure something out soon, the battle for first base could get fairly crowded.
The Royals keep getting into positions where they have plenty of players for one spot, but it’s a toss-up at which player will actually produce. Hunter Dozier looks to be the best choice for 2021, but the Royals may have a different idea in the near future. Keep an eye on first base to see if they switch things up in Kansas City.
Hunter Dozier will likely be at first in 2021, but things may change for the corner office in the future.