Editor's Note: The original version of this story published before news broke that the KC Royals have optioned Nick Pratto, Freddy Fermin and Maikel Garcia to the minors. The story has been edited to reflect those moves.
Not since the spring of 2006 have the KC Royals assembled an Opening Day roster without Dayton Moore. But that's the task facing Royals manager Matt Quatraro and general manager J.J. Picollo as next week's season opener looms.
The decisions will be tough, the choices hard. Spring camp still bulges with players working diligently to claim the 26 spots available on the active roster. Some players, Salvador Perez, Bobby Witt Jr., Brady Singer, Zack Greinke, Jordan Lyles, MJ Melendez, Scott Barlow, Aroldis Chapman and Hunter Dozier among them, are, for varying reasons, roster locks. Others have almost certainly won spots, still more are on the bubble, and many have no chance.
Who will be Royals when the club opens at home a week from Thursday?
CATCHER: Look for the KC Royals to open the season with a trio of backstops
Predicting who'll start behind the plate is easier than easy. Salvador Perez. Period. That's what seven All-Star berths, five Gold Gloves and a club-record four Silver Sluggers will do.
Choosing Perez's backup isn't as simple. Despite his defensive rough edges, that KC still likes him as a catcher means MJ Melendez will catch when Perez needs a day off or DH's. But because Melendez is also the left fielder, Kansas City should carry a "just in case" third catcher. Freddy Fermin seemed to be the club's top choice but the club optioned him, Nick Pratto and Maikel Garcia late Wednesday morning. If the Royals stick with a third catcher, it could be Logan Porter, who's hitting .381 with a .480 OBP this spring.