Should the Royals upgrade 2B or RF?

Jamie Squire

I mean, they should update both. But I'm making you choose.

The Kansas City Royals need to upgrade in 2014 if they want to have a realistic chance of reaching the post-season. This seems clear to most people following the team.

There are also two obvious positions that could use upgrades, second base and right field.* This also should not come as a shock, since both positions needed upgrades before the 2013 season as well. Neither position seems to have been adquately addressed, so here we are.

*You could easily make the claim that SS and 3B could also use an upgrade, but barring injuries and/or somehing completely unexpected happening, you can pencil Mike Moustakas and Alcides Escobar in for 1200 combined plate appearances next season. Exciting.

In a perfect world, the Royals would go out this off-season and improve both right field and second base. Due to financial restraints, however, the team may only attempt to improve one of the positions in the off-season and make due with players already on the 40-man roster for the other.

So which position would your rather the Royals make an upgrade at next season, second base or right field? Here are the incumbents at the respective positions:

Second Base

Emilio Bonifacio - Acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays in August. He was having an abysmal season in Toronto, but managed to give the Royals 1.0 fWAR over 179 plate appearances thanks to league-average hitting, solid defense and spectacular baserunning. Career .262/.322/.340 hiiter, will be arbitration eligible in 2014.

Chris Getz - Been with the Royals since 2010(!). Is basically the definition of a replacement player, as he's compiled .5 fWAR over parts of four seasons. Hit .220/.2888/.273 in 2013. Will also be arbitration eligible in '14.

Other potential options include Christian Colon, Johnny Giavotella and Irving Falu.

Right Field

David Lough - Managed to quietly earn 2.4 fWAR in his rookie season, thanks to hitting around league-average and playing stellar defense. Posted a three percent walk rate, which ties him with Escobar for worst on the team. Is not Jeff Francoeur.

Justin Maxwell - Acquired from the Houston Astros around the trade deadline. Hit .252/.328/.436 over 262 plate appearances for Houston and Kansas City. Struck out in 30 percent of his plate appearances. Career .241/.358/.431 hitter against lefties.

Jarrod Dyson and Lorenzo Cain may also play a few innings in right field next season, while Brian Fletcher and Lane Adams ended the season in Triple-A and could have a future as a fourth-outfielder type.

Neither position features the most exciting group of players, but it does look like Dayton Moore has made some progress with the roster. Let's move on to potential free agent/trade targets for the respective positions.

RoyalsRetro wrote some fantastic articles about who the Royals should be looking for at second base and right field, so check those out for ideas on potential trade targets. Here is the list of eligible free agents, courtesy MLB Trade Rumors:

Second basemen

Robinson Cano (31)
Alexi Casilla (29)
Jamey Carroll (40)
Alberto Gonzalez (31)
Mark Ellis (37) - $5.75MM club option with a $1MM buyout
Omar Infante (32)
Kelly Johnson (32)
Nick Punto (36)
Brian Roberts (36)
Ryan Roberts (33)
Ramon Santiago (34)
Skip Schumaker (34)
Chris Valaika (28)
Josh Wilson (33)
Ben Zobrist (33) - $7MM club option with a $2.5MM buyout

Cano is out of the question, and I imagine Zobrist's option will be picked up.

Right fielders

Jeff Baker (33)
Carlos Beltran (37)
Roger Bernadina (30)
Marlon Byrd (36)
Shin-Soo Choo (31)
Tyler Colvin (28)
Trevor Crowe (30)
Nelson Cruz (33)
David DeJesus (34) - $6.5MM club option with a $1.5MM buyout
Mark DeRosa (39) - $750K club option with a $25K buyout
Jeff Francoeur (30)
Mike Morse (32)
Grady Sizemore (31)
Casper Wells (29)

Delmon Young is also a free-agent, but MLBTR (properly) lists him as a designated hitter. The Royals will likely be priced out of the Choo Sweepstakes, but he would be a great fit.

There are a few interesting names at both positions sprinkled around a bunch of meh. Overall, I think the potential trade market would be more interesting, but that would require the Royals surrendering talent, not just money.

It's certainly possible that the Royals will upgrade both positions, but my guess is they will focus on one. I would prefer the Royals upgrade second base and keep a Maxwell/Lough platoon in right field (if they can only upgrade one spot), but my guess is they will try to upgrade right field and use Bonifacio as the starting second baseman.

I'm curious what everyone else thinks about which position the Royals should be focused on upgrading, since there are arguments to be made for both sides. So I leave you with a poll on the issue, and hope that we can get a nice discussion going that has nothing to do with Billy Butler.
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