KC Royals: 3 players who need strong 2021 finishes

(Photo by Scott Kane/Getty Images)
(Photo by Scott Kane/Getty Images) /
1 of 3
KC Royals, Edward Olivares
(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

September is almost here, which means the KC Royals have only a full month and a few days left before the playoffs they won’t be a part of begin. Kansas City plays its last game of 2021 Oct. 3; as soon as the players head home, the front office’s important winter begins.

Decisions must be made. Will the pitching and hitting coaches return in 2022? What should the club do with top prospects Bobby Witt Jr. and Nick Pratto? Should veteran pitchers Ervin Santana, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland return? Might the club trade Whit Merrifield?

And while several key players like Salvador Perez, Brad Keller, Scott Barlow, and Nicky Lopez have nothing to worry about, others must finish well this season to remain in the 2022 conversation.

Let’s look at three of them.

Can Edward Olivares prove to the KC Royals that he should play next season?

One player shouldn’t need a hot finish to prove his worth, but probably does. Edward Olivares, who began his sixth stint this season with Kansas City by hitting a difference-making two-run 12th inning home run against Seattle Friday night (Saturday morning back home), must continue to play well.

That’s because something keeps the Royals from giving Olivares a full-time job in KC. Despite hitting five homers and driving in nine runs in his last 12 big league games, he’s been up and down from and to Triple-A Omaha all season. Maybe Olivares is just trapped on the roster bubble, or the Royals feel he isn’t quite the player they want. Perhaps they don’t take him as seriously as they should.

Why the team hasn’t seen fit to keep Olivares doesn’t matter as much now as how he performs in the season’s final weeks. Hitting decently is what’s most important.

If, that is, the KC Royals don’t demote him again.

Who else must put together strong finishes?