In five weeks pitchers and catchers will report for spring training, and while the Royals may still make some moves, they seem content to sit back and let the market play out. The Royals have made some significant moves, sending Wade Davis to Chicago for Jorge Soler, and trading Jarrod Dyson to Seattle for Nate Karns. They also re-signed catcher Drew Butera, and added a number of players on minor league deals.
As of right now, here is my best guess at what the 25-man roster would look like with the current roster.
|Kansas City Royals 2017 Roster|
|C Salvador Perez||SP Danny Duffy|
|1B Eric Hosmer||SP Ian Kennedy|
|2B Whit Merrifield||SP Yordano Ventura|
|SS Alcides Escobar||SP Jason Vargas|
|3B Mike Moustakas||SP Nate Karns|
|LF Alex Gordon||RP Kelvin Herrera|
|CF Lorenzo Cain||RP Joakim Soria|
|RF Paulo Orlando||RP Matt Strahm|
|DH Jorge Soler||RP Brian Flynn|
|Bench: C Drew Butera, IF Christian Colon, 3B Cheslor Cuthbert, OF Billy Burns||RP Al Alburquerque|
|RP Bobby Parnell|
|RP Chris Young|
Mike Minor could begin the year on the disabled list. Cheslor Cuthbert is out of option years, meaning he must make the Major League team or be subject to waivers. I have Mondesi going back to Omaha to develop his hitting, but he could be up very soon. Soler will probably see some action in right field. I think Matt Strahm spends this year in the bullpen, with an eye towards starting next year. The bullpen is still very much in flux and I expect the Royals to add another arm or two to the equation.
Here is my best guess for what Omaha is looking at for a roster to begin the season.
|Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA) Projected 2017 Roster|
|C Cam Gallagher||SP Alec Mills|
|1B Ryan O'Hearn||SP Kyle Zimmer|
|2B Corey Toups||SP Jake Junis|
|SS Raul Mondesi||SP Jonathan Dziedzic|
|3B Hunter Dozier||SP Christian Binford|
|LF Peter O'Brien||RP Miguel Almonte|
|CF Bubba Starling||RP Andrew Edwards|
|RF Jorge Bonifacio||RP Brandon League|
|DH Frank Schwindel||RP Eric Stout|
|Bench: C Zane Evans, IF Garin Cecchini, IF Ramon Torres, OF Terrance Gore||RP Onelki Garcia|
|RP Scott Alexander|
|RP Kevin McCarthy|
Oh, if only Zimmer could stay healthy. It will be interesting to see where they put Dozier, I could see him spending a lot of time in the outfield so he could be called up and ready to play there in Kansas City if needed. There are a lot of different arms that could make the Omaha pitching staff that I didn't list - Chris Withrow, Jonathan Sanchez, Luke Farrell, Eric Skoglund, Andy Ferguson, Pedro Fernandez, Evan Beal, and Josh Staumont could all be in the mix.
So what does payroll look like right now?
That's right, we're still paying Omar Infante! I have it on good authority that the Royals do have to pay the buyouts on departing free agents Edinson Volquez and Kendrys Morales, even though those players declined their portion of their mutual options, although it is quite possible those amounts are applied towards last year's payroll. Arbitration salaries for Eric Hosmer, Danny Duffy and Kelvin Herrera are based on estimates from MLB Trade Rumors. The Major League minimum is set at $535,000 next year, although typically teams will pay players with a year or two experience above that amount. I am not certain about the Major League salaries for Al Alburquerque and Bobby Parnell should they make the team, but $1 million is in the ballpark of the going rate for veterans on minor league deals. Finally, Jorge Soler can opt-into the arbitration process next year if he wishes.
The Royals spent $144 million on player payroll last year, so with projected payroll still near that number and public statements the Royals would like to "regress" payroll, there may be another player moved to move that number down. At the current payroll, however, it seems unlikely they have much flexibility in terms of adding free agents. Perhaps another move is in the works, or perhaps the budget can be expanded a bit, but Dayton Moore may have to be creative to fill out the 2017 roster if the Royals hope to contend.