It seems to be the case that Kansas City sets the 25 man roster in some Georgia hunting blind in January. Unless injuries interfere, spring training is a media exercise. Ned will want 12 pitchers, so the opening day 25 man should be already established unless someone gets hurt in the meantime. Yost also likes to space his left and right-handed hittters. My prediction for the 25 man:
Lineup: Aoki, Infante, Hosmer, Butler, Gordon, Perez, Moustakas, Cain, Escobar.
Bench: Hayes, Bonifacio, Valencia, Dyson.
Starters: Shields, Duffy, Guthrie, Vargas, Davis.
Pen: Holland, Hochevar, Collins, Crow, Coleman, Herrera, Joseph.
DFA'd and lost to other teams in March: Maxwell, Ciriaco, Bueno, Cleto, Teaford.
Pruning the larger roster to 35 before opening day will provide opportunities for fellows like Baumann, Fletcher, and Eibner, but let's not assume that those are the chosen ones and simply consider the players who are already on the 40 man. If Kansas City fails to perform to expectations next season, choices should be made before the trading deadline:
Free Agents: Shields, Hochevar, Bonifacio, Aoki.
2015 Club Options: Butler, Davis.
If all six of these players are no longer on the team after the trade deadline, the August 2014 Royals looks like this:
Lineup: Dyson, Giavotella (DH), Hosmer, Perez, Gordon, Infante, Moustakas, Cain, Escobar.
Bench: Hayes, Colon, Valencia, Adams.
Starters: Ventura, Duffy, Guthrie, Vargas, Dwyer.
Pen: Holland, Collins, Crow, Coleman, Herrera, Joseph, Mariot.
I suppose we could hang on to James Shields, as he is sure to get a Qualifying Offer. Nobody knows what kind of players we would get for Shields, Hochevar, Bonifacio, Aoki, Butler, and Davis, but let us assume that the return would not be playing in 2014.
If Debbie Downer is correct, let's hope that some not on the current 40 man are ready to step up. Zimmer, J. Bonifacio, and Dozier look more promising than some names listed. The Royals do not have to completely tear down the team if the worst case scenario comes to pass, but Kansas City must see progress with the young prospects or make some great trades in anticipation of 2015.
This whole exercise is based upon the 2015 Royals. A disappointing start in 2014 might see the debut of the next version of the team.