The Royals have optioned infielder Whit Merrfield to AAA Omaha, seemingly giving a roster spot to Christian Colón. Merrifield hit .283/.323/.392 in 81 games last year with good defense and baserunning, putting up 1.7 WAR. He also had a fine spring training and offered positional versatility. However, he has an option year remaining, while Colón does not, and the Royals valued keeping their inventory rather than risk losing Colón to waivers.
The 27-year old Colón has hit .268/.328/.338 in 329 career Major League plate appearances in his career, but is best known for his game-tying hit in the 2014 Wild Card and his game-winning hit in Game 5 of the 2015 World Series. He will join catcher Drew Butera and infielder Cheslor Cuthbert on the bench. Ned Yost announced his Opening Day starting lineup earlier this week.
The Royals also assigned pitcher Seth Maness to minor league camp. Maness was signed as a minor league free agent this past winter after four years as a solid reliever with the Cardinals. However he did not pitch this spring and is recovering from an elbow injury that typically requires Tommy John surgery, a fate Maness avoided by undergoing an experimental procedure.
The Royals have few remaining roster decisions to make. They still have yet to officially place Jorge Soler on the disabled list due to his oblique injury. Yost told Kansas City Star reporter Rustin Dodd that Soler was “getting better”, but by most accounts the slugger will begin the year on the disabled list and may not return when he is eligible to be activated on April 9. The Royals have indicated that if Soler goes to the disabled list, speedster Terrance Gore would replace him on the roster.
The Royals will also have to make a 40-man roster decision to add Peter Moylan to the roster. Moylan is very likely to make the club in the bullpen, but was a non-roster invitee to camp. Kevin McCarthy, Scott Alexander, and Billy Burns could be candidates to be designated for assignment.
Probable Opening Day Roster:
Catchers (2): Drew Butera, Salvador Perez
Infielders (6): Christian Colón, Cheslor Cuthbert, Alcides Escobar, Eric Hosmer, Raúl Mondesí, Mike Moustakas,
Outfielders (5): Lorenzo Cain, Alex Gordon, Terrance Gore, Brandon Moss, Paulo Orlando
Starting Pitchers (5): Danny Duffy, Jason Hammel, Nathan Karns, Ian Kennedy, Jason Vargas
Relief Pitchers (7): Kelvin Herrera, Mike Minor, Peter Moylan, Joakim Soria, Matt Strahm, Travis Wood, Chris Young
Disabled List: Brian Flynn, Jorge Soler