After the press conference with Dayton Moore last week, it appears that the Kansas City Royals are going to keep 5 outfielders coming out of spring training. Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, and Norichika Aoki seem to be the obvious choices for the starters. I believe that Jarrod Dyson and Justin Maxwell are going to win the 4th and 5th spots.
They work well together in giving Yost the option to fiddle with things late in the game, which he is going to do. Using Dyson as a pinch runner or defensive replacement while keeping a decent bat on the bench in Maxwell keeps this team in the best position to win every night.
The other contender is Carlos Peguero. His upside is only slightly better than what Maxwell is right now. His downside is a lot worse and he hasn’t shown the ability to hit at the MLB level.
With keeping five outfielders, another position is going to get cut back. A second catcher is absolutely necessary, so there will be either one less backup infielder or one less bullpen pitcher. There are a lot of options for the Kansas City Royals and they have the personnel to pull off any of them.
By far the easiest option is to cut Danny Valencia loose and only have 1 backup infielder. The downside of this is that whoever ends up winning the backup infielder role will most likely be playing out of position when covering at third base.
The biggest issue is that it would remove the best option to replace Mike Moustakas if he doesn’t end up improving this season.
Neither one is really busting down the door to the 25 man roster. Colon looks like he could use another season in AAA before being brought up. Leaving Alcides Escobar and Omar Infante in all 162 games seems a little unreasonable.
The final option is to cut a spot in the bullpen, taking it down to six. Ideally, there would be enough off days in the first 3 weeks to put a starter into the bull pen or in the minors to clear up the extra roster spot. This season they’re going to need the 5th starter by their 6th game.
Even if the Kansas City Royals pitch Shields on day one, then every four days, and utilize the off-days, then they will only have a single two week section where the fifth starter isn’t needed in the first month.
I believe that this is the option that they will ultimately decide on. I think that they’re hedging on an injury to Lorenzo Cain. If one month into the season all of the outfielders are injury free and Mike Moustakas is hitting, then a really tough decision is going to have to be made.
The fact that a useful player might have to be released is a testament to how thorough this roster has been constructed.