Big roster shakeup launches KC Royals homestand

Kansas City made several roster changes Monday afternoon.
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With changes driven by player health and performances, the KC Royals will field a lineup with some different looks when they open a new homestand by hosting Miami this evening.

Here's who'll be playing for Kansas City when starter Cole Ragans throws the first pitch at 7:10 p.m. CDT:

The changes start at the very top of the order — Maikel Garcia returns to his familiar leadoff spot after giving it up to Adam Frazier Saturday and Nick Loftin Sunday, but he'll start at second base, not third. Michael Massey, out since late May after fighting his back for the second time this season, returns from the Injured List and will serve as tonight's designated hitter.

Then comes the biggest lineup change. Filling in for Garcia at third will be rookie CJ Alexander, who with Massey represents the two roster additions the Royals made among the series of moves they announced this afternoon.

The other changes? Kansas City placed utility man Adam Frazier, who strained his right thumb Saturday, on the 10-day IL, optioned outfielder-designated hitter Nelson Velázquez to Omaha, and designated reliever Jake Brentz for assignment. The move with Brentz opened up the 40-man roster spot the club needed for Alexander.

What do these moves mean?

Michael Massey made some of the changes necessary

The Royals clearly needed Massey's bat back in the lineup. He was hitting not far below .300 (.294 to be precise) and had homered six times and driven in 23 runs in 29 games when he reinjured his back May 29 and went on the IL.

That Massey only DH'd during his just-completed rehab assignment with Omaha, and will DH tonight, strongly suggests the Royals are easing him back into the lineup and won't return him to second base until they're convinced his back can tolerate playing defense. The club obviously hopes Massey will help get its weak offense back on track.

Shouldering most of the second base burden in Massey's absence has been Nick Loftin, but he's hitting only .229 on the now offensively-challenged club. Moving Garcia, who's hitting only 10 points better than Loftin, to second keeps him in the leadoff spot, where KC prefers him to be.

That has something, but not everything, to do with Alexander's promotion. Yes, he can definitely play third, but the Royals couldn't keep him on the farm much longer without giving him, and his bat, a shot with the big club — in 56 games at Omaha, Alexander was slashing .323/.369/.555 with nine homers and 35 RBI. And he has some experience in the outfield corners and at first base, which will help with Frazier out of action.

Tonight will be Alexander's major league debut.

Jake Brentz's struggles, need for roster space made his DFA inevitable

Kansas City couldn't promote Alexander without clearing space for him on its 40-man roster; Brentz was avaialble and, it seems, expendable.

Unfortunately, the lefty reliever underwent Tommy John Surgery in 2022 and hasn't pitched in the big leagues since. He began his rehab with three minor league appearances last season; continuing that rehab this year, he had a 12.27 ERA in 12 games at Double-A Northwest Arkansas and an even worse 13.50 ERA in eight appearances for Omaha.

The Royals like Brentz, though, so don't be surprised to see him back with the organization if no other clubs show interest in him.

Nelson Velázquez heads to Triple-A

Velázquez's demotion is easy to explain — he's been a disappointment at the plate. He's slashing an unacceptable .122/.240/.171 for June, .200/.274/.366 for the season, and hasn't homered since May 31.

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