It’s hard to part with good players, but that’s what the KC Royals might do.
There’s much to like about Emmanuel Rivera, who this season received his first major league chance via a late June call-up from Omaha. He can hit, has some power, and his glove is adequate. He hit the first big league pitch he saw, a Garrett Richards fastball, for a single, and went 2-for-4 in his first game.
Unfortunately, Rivera suffered a hamate fracture the next day, didn’t return until early August, and hit .247 before the Royals sent him back to Triple-A for the rest of the season. He finished with 19 homers and slashed .286/.348/.592 across his two stints with the Storm Chasers.
Rivera, though, is behind too many Royal infielders. Primarily a third baseman, he won’t beat out Bobby Witt Jr. at the hot corner, nor will he displace Nicky Lopez or Whit Merrifield if KC takes looks at him at shortstop or second. And with Adalberto Mondesi bound to move around the infield and DH next season, there isn’t much room for Rivera as a backup.
Lucius Fox is in the same squeeze as Rivera—he’s good (MLB Pipeline ranks him No. 30 among the organization’s top prospects)—but too many KC infielders are better. Versatile, he’s played shortstop, second, third and center field in the minors, and he’s averaged almost 30 stolen bases over his five-season minor league career. But he’s hitting only .242.
Although Fox has the potential to improve at the plate, the talent in front of him—Witt Jr., Lopez, Merrifield and Mondesi—means he’ll have trouble getting to Kansas City, and staying there if he does.
So it is that, despite their obvious talent, it may make sense for the KC Royals to move Rivera and Fox today to clear roster space. Perhaps the club can swing trades before the day is out, but more cuts would be required if the return involved Rule 5-eligible players. Non-eligible prospects would be better and more logical.
At the end of the day, though, the Royals need to move five players off their 40-man if they’re going to protect Pratto, Melendez, Cox, Haake, Bowlan, Garcia, Matias, Hicklen and Blanco. Dropping Lovelady, O’Hearn, Olivares, Rivera and Fox won’t be painless.
And the pain will only increase if the club decides to protect even more players.
The KC Royals need to make some roster moves. We’ll find out soon what they are.