Kansas City Royals’ Second Base Conundrum: What Are The Options?


The Kansas City Royals are so close to being a playoff caliber team. So close. They have had great success this season, going 17-12 so far and only trailing the Detroit Tigers by one and a half games in the AL Central. The Royals are an exciting, scrappy team and they have had some truly terrific performances from their starting rotation. Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, and Alcides Escobar have led the offense but Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Jeff Francoeur, and Chris Getz have struggled. The other day, KC Kingdom staff writer Jacob Meysenburg gave us a couple of possibilities on the right field situation. Let’s take a look at the hole at second base.

Apr 28, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals second basemen

Chris Getz

(17) makes a throw to first over Cleveland Indians base runner

Lonnie Chisenhall

(8) during the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Getz is the primary second baseman for Kansas City. He has accumulated 74 at bats there this season and Elliott Johnson and Miguel Tejada have combined for 24 at bats. Getz’s slash line at second is .219/.250/.342/.592. These numbers just aren’t acceptable. His OBP of .250 is abysmal. Getz isn’t even cashing in on his one true asset – his speed. He has yet to even attempt a stolen base, let alone actually swipe one. The old adage that you can’t steal first is Getz in a nut shell in 2013. The Royals must upgrade at this position.

Elliot Johnson is doing much better when he has started. His numbers when he starts at second are .333/.364/.476/.840 (Johnson has 6 other at bats at other positions in which he has not reached base). Johnson is also 2 for 2 in stolen base attempts. Going strictly by the totally unscientific “eyeball” test, it doesn’t appear that Johnson’s in range and glove work are any worse than Getz’. In fact, Johnson has made a couple of plays to his left that Getz may not have made. Miguel Tejada has played just one game at second and he went 2-3 in that outing.

Getz is not the answer. He is not a terrible defensive player but he isn’t good enough to play everyday while providing no offense. Johnson is what he is – a solid utility performer who would be exposed if he played each and every day (note his career slash line – .225/.283/.340/.623). What other options do the Royals have?

Kansas City  have some options at Triple A Omaha but they all come with questions. The best, most obvious choice would be to give Johnny Giavotella another shot. Gio is hitting .290/.371/.430/.801 for the Storm Chasers. Not great numbers but not bad either. He has hit 2 home runs and 9 doubles as well. Christian Colon would be another option but it is looking more and more like the former 1st round draft pick will never be more than a utility infielder himself. His AAA slash line is even worse than Getz’ major league line – .217/.243/.283/.526 – not encouraging numbers at all.

There is one other option I am a bit intrigued by – Anthony Seratelli. The 30-year old has only played 76 games at second in his long minor league career (739 games) so is doubtful that he is the greatest glove man in the world but he may be the best in-house option for the Royals. This season, playing third base predominately, he is hitting .323/.447/.516/.963. That is a really good line. Last season he hit 17 home runs and stole 15 bases so he has a nice mixture of power and speed. He may not be the best option, but he may be the most interesting one.

May 5, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Miami Marlins left fielder

Juan Pierre

(9) steals second base beating the throw to Philadelphia Phillies second baseman

Chase Utley

(26) during the first inning at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The next question to be pondered is if there are options outside of the organization. The name being tossed the world wide web right now is Philly Chase Utley. Two days ago, in his Q&A post for the Kansas City Star, Bob Dutton fielded the twitter question.

"@jshwtk11: @Buster_ESPN keeps making noise about the #Royals potentially acquiring chase utley. Is he on to something?If you’re asking whether I’ve heard anything more than speculation: No, I haven’t. But if you’re looking for possible matches, it’s not unreasonable — at least on the surface, which is what I think Buster Olney is suggesting.Utley is in his last year before free agency and, therefore, projects as a likely rent-a-player candidate if the Phillies, as they seem to be doing, play their way out of contention. And, yes, the Royals could use Chase Utley.Now the obstacles, and they’re considerable. First, he’s making $15 million. That means roughly $5 million to get him just prior to the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline.Personally, I don’t think that’s a deal-breaker. I think the Royals, if they’re in contention in late July, will try to add a significant piece. I also think owner David Glass would sign off on a major short-term expenditure.The bigger problems are (1) Utley can block trades to 21 teams (including, presumably, the Royals); (2) several contenders are likely to show interest, which means (3) getting him will likely require something of real value.Chew that over. Would/should the Royals add $5 million in payroll and trade a top prospect or two for two months of Utley? You can bet the Phillies will be asking for Yordano Ventura, Kyle Zimmer or someone similar.I’m not sure they’d be willing to do that."

In the spirit of just tossing other players’ names about in pure speculation of what second basemen might be available, the Blue Jays might be willing to part with Emilio Bonifacio, the 28-year brother to Royals farmhand, Jorge. Bonifacio is affordable – he is being paid $2.6 million in 2013 – and probably wouldn’t cost much in the way of prospects to acquire but he his career numbers are only slightly better than Getz’ (Bonifacio has a .663 career OPS compared to Getz’ .627).

Another purely speculative option might be Seattle’s Dustin Ackley. It is possible the Mariners may have soured on Ackley, a former top prospect. Again, like Bonifacio, Ackley’s numbers are only slightly better than Getz’. The biggest difference is the Mariner has better power than either Getz or Bonifacio.

Apr 27, 2013; Washington, D.C., USA; Cincinnati Reds shortstop

Zack Cozart

(2) is out at second base as Washington Nationals second baseman

Danny Espinosa

(8) starts the double play in the sixth inning at Nationals Park. The Nationals defeated the Reds 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

There may be one other name to toss out – Danny Espinosa. The Washington National has about the same kind of average and OBP as Getz, Bonifacio, and Ackley, but has much more power than any of them (37 total home runs in 2011 and 2012). Espinosa has been putrid in 2013 – .185/.224/.370/.594 – but like these other players, has a degree of upside. The biggest problem with Espinosa is he strikes out a ton (NL-leading 189 times in 2012).

As is clear by these speculative options, there isn’t much out there that is more intriguing than Utley, or the Royals own minor leaguers. Chris Getz is not cutting it as the every day second baseman in Kansas City. The Royals need to find a player who will not leave a huge void in the line-up. Utley may prove too costly in the long run (in prospects, not dollars) but he is clearly the best name being bandied about. Whether Kansas City can upgrade this position any time soon is debatable, it would nice to see them try.