3 KC Royals who could surprise in spring training and beyond

These Royals have the most to gain in Suprise.

Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
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Is Nick Loftin Kansas City's forgotten man?

Nick Loftin was all the rage coming into this offseason. A September call-up, he played only 19 games at the major league level but acquitted himself well, slashing .323/.368/.435. Loftin appeared to be in position to push Massey for the second base job, or at least land a platoon split. But with thehead-scratching signing of Frazier, an experienced second baseman who can also man the corner outfield spots, it feels like Loftin has been pushed to the margins.

There's a way, though, for Loftin to capitalize on the spring.

All the pressure is on Massey. He has a season-and-a-half under his belt, but has struggled to produce consistently despite some nice flashes of his potential. A lot depends on how much patience the club has for him; it's possible no dramatic decisions will come until both Massey and Loftin provide a sample of work in 2024. But if the idea is to make them earn their spots, the Royals have the kind of depth in place where they can put pressure on their prospects. And if Massey struggles too much this spring, a door could open.

Frazier is the likeliest benefactor in that scenario, given his veteran experience. But Frazier is hardly a big-money free agent. The Royals should feel no pressure to push him into the lineup every day, and unless he has a bounce-back season himself, it's not outside the realm of possibility that Loftin could win the second base job outright. That may be a long shot, but if Massey struggles, Loftin has a chance to take his spot in a platoon with Frazier.

And there's another possible outcome. Even if Massey and Frazier produce and hold their spots, a big spring from Loftin could draw potential trade suitors — a strong performance from Loftin might help the Royals if he's dealt for value, and open him up to more playing time on another team.