A lot has been made of the start the Royals are out to. It's a good start (which beats a bad start), but if they are going to hang with Detroit, that's going to mean getting some reinforcements during the season, either internally from the farm or externally through trades.
It's still far too early to evaluate trades because there aren't any teams that are sellers in May (although a couple could be). But we can at least examine the in-house options.
The starting staff has been a huge plus, but its rare that a five man group lasts the entire season.
Danny Duffy - he's still at least 8 weeks away from being ready to join the rotation, and that's at the earliest. I would estimate that he would likely be more like 10 weeks away from helping the ML club. The concerns with TJ returnees are that command is typically the last thing to come back and Duffy's command and control weren't exactly perfect before his injury. Still, he could be a nice boost in mid July and wouldn't cost anything to bring in. Probably would need at least a couple starts in the minors before returning to KC.
Felipe Paulino - Paulino is about a month behind Duffy, which means that his return might not happen until August. The benefit of having a guy like Paulino or Duffy is that, in the event that the Royals need to set up their rotation for a one game playoff, Paulino (or Duffy) could represent a significant upgrade over the typical fifth starter down the stretch. Same TJ concerns apply to Paulino.
Yordano Ventura - he's starting to dominate AA ball (10+ K's in each of his last two starts) and that could mean a trip to Omaha before Flag Day. I don't know whether the Royals would use him as a fifth starter, or as an air it out reliever for the playoffs, but he's a nice weapon to have if he continues to progress. The only concern here would be innings. Last year he threw a career high 109.1 innings. He's already at 29.1 this season. If you figure a 30% increase puts him a little over 140 innings this year, he will get to that mark in mid September at his current pace. His size makes that inning mark especially intriguing, which is why the pen is a nice fallback option if he can help the club.
Chris Dwyer - Yeah, that Chris Dwyer. His walks are down (from 4.3/9 last year to 3.3/9), but still too high to translate well. His strikeouts are trending back up (from 5.9/9 at Omaha last season to 6.2/9 this year) , but not enough to be too optimistic yet. Still, after back to back abysmal years, the fact that he is doing at least a reasonable impression of a top prospect is encouraging. That above average curveball is still there, which could be a bullpen weapon as a LOOGY if nothing else.
Donnie Joseph - speaking of LOOGYs, Joseph was lights out in Spring training (all caveats apply), but hasn't done good work in Omaha. At some point, the Royals will probably need a situational lefty, and there were hopes that Joseph would be that lefty. There's still time to right the ship.
Louis Coleman - He will likely see KC at some point this summer. He's really a situational righty, and could be a huge asset down the stretch if used correctly. He and Joseph could work in tandem (if they are throwing well) once rosters expand to add more weapons to the bullpen.
The ranks are a bit thin on the position player side of the coin. Mostly backups and platoon candidates. Still, if used correctly, that could mean an extra win (or two) and that matters since the Royals aren't about to run away with a division title, or even a wild card spot.
Johnny Giavotella - He kills AAA pitching. He may just be a AAAA player. He isn't a defensive savant. That's what we know about Gio. However, Chris Getz is not exactly Frank White with the leather, and he's mired in a slump that has Ned Yost blaming allergies for sitting him in favor of Elliot Johnson. Gio may not be the long term answer, but he may be a guy that can help move the needle ever so slightly this season.
David Lough - strictly as a platoon partner with Francoeur. He's raking in Omaha right now (.353/.411/.526) and he is passable at either corner spot defensively. However, with Dyson already on the roster, adding him as a platoon mate makes little sense, and I don't know that he is a full time answer.
Anthony Seratelli - I don't think he is a realistic option, but that OBP (.447) is intriguing. He's probably the very definition of a AAAA player at this point. Should hope to get a cup of coffee at the end of the season, but if he's in KC for an extended period, something has likely gone horribly wrong.
Christian Colon - Currently hitting .217/.243/.283 at Omaha. Gio is hitting .290/.371/.430. Seratelli is hitting .323/.447/.516. Irving Falu is hitting .258/.308/.330. Even if Colon is the long term answer (survey says "doubtful") he is probably the fourth best option in Omaha right now.
Basically, if the Royals need a significant upgrade in the field, they either have to hope Johnny Giavotella hits like he has hit in the minors, ride the Seratelli train and hope its not a fairy tale, or platoon with Lough or Colon and hope that's passable. Other than that, they have to go outside the organization for bats.