On the Hot Seat: The 3 most vulnerable KC Royals infielders

Which Royal infielders could be in danger of losing their jobs?
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
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Nick Loftin's Kansas City job may also be in danger

Loftin's major league debut came late last season. The Royals called him up from Triple-A Sept. 1 and he went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI that night. And although he'll have to wait until 2024 to collect his first major league home run, he drove in nine more runs before his 19-game season ended, and finished with a .326 average and .368 OBP.

MLB Pipeline also rates him as Kansas City's fifth-best prospect.

How, then, could Loftin be in jeopardy of losing his roster spot? Why would the Royals consider moving such a good utility type when Garret Hampson, a good utility man in his own right but a player of less potential than Loftin, is more expendable?

Hampson is the kind of player capable of sticking with a lot of teams. He's dependable, plays a lot of positions competently, can handle the bat, and steals bases. Loftin, on the other hand, is the kind of player who'll stick or, through no fault of his own, not stick, because he's good enough to earn a long-term job but also good enough to attract trade partners willing to give a lot to get a lot. And that's why Loftin may be vulnerable.

After all, what Picollo has done so far this offseason makes the Royals, at least on paper, a better club than the one that just lost 106 games, and one some are bold enough to think might be able to contend in the soft American League Central. But Picollo has more work to do to make the Royals winners, and trading good talent for other good talent will be required to finish the job.

Picollo's trade arsenal may necessarily include Loftin, a high-ceiling player who many teams will covet if they don't already. The results of his brief introduction to the majors, his positional versatility, and the 42 homers, 184 RBI, .272 average, and .353 OBP he's put up in 306 minor league games are too attractive for other clubs not to press the Royals to trade. Whether he wants to or not, Picollo may need to deal Loftin away.

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