The KC Royals probably had fewer questions about their outfield last January than they do now.
The identity of Kansas City’s left fielder was never really in doubt last January: most assumed Alex Gordon would return and he did via the one-year deal he signed just days before the month ended. Gordon’s retirement, though, creates one of the biggest questions about the 2021 club.
The Royals are blessed with a stable of young, talented outfielders, but General Manager Dayton Moore’s conspicuous quest for a strong lefthanded bat continues, and left field is a likely spot for any suitable lefty Moore might find. Franchy Cordero might be the most obvious internal choice, Whit Merrifield can play left if necessary, and Hunter Dozier probably ends up there if Moore signs or trades for a lefthanded-hitting third baseman.
For now, the mystery continues.
Who plays center field?
The prevailing view last January was that Merrifield was KC’s center fielder of choice. But for several reasons beyond his control, not the least of which was Dozier’s move from right field to first base, Merrifield found himself in right more often than center. Consequently reopened, then, is the question of who the center fielder will be.
The Royals’ late November signing of Michael A. Taylor seems to have answered that query, at least as long as Taylor proves he can hit consistently. He flashed some power in 2017 with 19 home runs and hit 14 in 2015, but those two seasons account for most of his 53 seven-year career homers. And his career .237/.291/.395 slash isn’t what most clubs want from an everyday center fielder. So the 2021 center field questions are whether Taylor will hit and, if he doesn’t, will his defense be good enough to permit the Royals to overlook a weak bat in an essential spot?
It’s a new January with new questions for the KC Royals. Hopefully, those questions will be easily answered.