Is there any reason to believe the KC Royals will settle on a right fielder?
Entry to right field in Kauffman Stadium has been via revolving door for too long. Over the past eight seasons alone, the Royals have shuffled (among others) Nori Aoki, Alex Rios, Paulo Orlando, Jorge Bonifacio, Jorge Soler and, most recently Whit Merrifield and Hunter Dozier, through the position.
And an end to the quest for right field stability doesn’t seem near. Merrifield appeared destined to take over in 2021, but Adalberto Mondesi’s injuries forced him back to second base. Dozier played right more than anyone this season, an outcome probably occasioned more by a lack of clearly better alternatives and the need to play him and his new $25 million contract somewhere, than his qualifications for the position.
But Dozier serving the most time in right field this season doesn’t mean the job is his. His glove isn’t as questionable there as it is at third base, but it’s hard to tell whether the Royals can commit to his defense anywhere, and he struggled at the plate most of the season,
So, how will the KC Royals avoid the kind of frustrating search for Eric Hosmer’s replacement that seemed to end with Carlos Santana, but may be on again after his miserable second-half slump?
That’s the main outfield concern. The Royals don’t appear any more comfortable with Dozier’s defense in right than they did with it at third. Merrifield would be fine, but the club has to solve its crowded infield puzzle (Santana, Mondesi, Nicky Lopez, Bobby Witt Jr., Merrifield himself, and perhaps Nick Pratto) before it can assign him to the outfield full time.
Kyle Isbel, who played 14 errorless games in right during two trials with the Royals this season, is a possibility. Maybe a trade or free agent signing is in order.
But until it’s resolved, hopefully during the offseason, the right field question is a concern.
The KC Royals have issues they need to address this winter. If they don’t do so satisfactorily, contending—or even improving—will be difficult in 2022.