3 KC Royals who will make the 2024 Opening Day roster but won’t last the season

So many things can change between March and September.

Christian Petersen/GettyImages
3 of 4

RHP Carlos Hernández

There was a time in 2023 when Carlos Hernández looked like the Royals' closer of the future. Yet, his quick return to dismal production proved Kansas City should have traded him when they had the chance. Now, heading into 2024, this season feels like make-or-break for the Venezuelan pitcher.

His shaky health this spring only piles on to his rocky 2023 performance. Royals general manager J.J. Picollo said the fireballer is dealing with a sore shoulder this spring and hasn't pitched from a mound in weeks, according to MLB.com's Anne Rogers. She said "he’s close to his first bullpen and should be able to get 6-7 live outings before the season," but any setback is a major concern for Hernández. Shoulder injuries can spell trouble for a fastball-first pitcher like him, but hopefully, it is only a bump in the road heading into Opening Day.

Hernández still has plenty of team control, not hitting free agency until 2028. He also has one minor-league option remaining, meaning Kansas City could demote him if it came to that. But, considering Kansas City's depth of right-handed relievers right now, the team should be proactive in trading him if the opportunity arises.

This all rests on his not having a future in Kansas City, something that I hope he recaptures in 2024. A fastball-heavy bullpen of guys like Hernández, Will Klein, and Steven Cruz would be volatile but very fun to watch. But if Hernández falters, Kansas City should learn from its mistakes and move on.