There was certainly an array of reactions on Tuesday when the Royals announced that they would be bringing back outfielder/pinch-running specialist Terrance Gore on a MAJOR LEAGUE deal.
I don't understand why the Royals signed Terrance Gore AND Billy Hamilton - they are basically the same player! (And Hamilton - the slightly better version - was signed first!)— Craig Wieczorkiewicz (@MWLtraveler) December 19, 2018
The only way in which the Royals’ signing of Terrance Gore makes sense is if they think they can trade him to a contender that wants a speed demon off their bench and cash in on a small-time prospect. I like Gore but personally I think the Royals outbid themselves here.— Fun with Baseball (@funwithbaseball) December 19, 2018
In what universe does giving Terrance Gore a major league contract make sense?— Craig Brown (@CraigBrown_BP) December 19, 2018
Every single one of these takes is valid if you believe that the Royals have guys in the big leagues that need regular at-bats. Here’s my thing with that belief: the Royals outfield glut is going to prevent them from getting everyone at-bats on its own. It didn’t need Terrance Gore to clog up the at-bats, that was already happening.
Here’s a quick look at the Kansas City Royals outfield situation as it stands right now:
- LF - Alex Gordon (lock)
- CF - Billy Hamilton (lock)
- RF - Brett Phillips/Jorge Bonifacio/Jorge Soler
- 4th OF - Terrance Gore/Brian Goodwin
We know for a fact that Alex Gordon and Billy Hamilton are locks to get regular at-bats in two of the three outfield spots. That leaves two spots in the lineup, RF and DH, open for four hitters (assuming the plan isn’t to get Gore at-bats). Here are the Royals theoretical options in the outfield for 2019.
- Play one of Brett Phillips or Jorge Bonifacio in RF regularly while Jorge Soler DHs. This would impede on the development on one of Phillips or Bonifacio and completely erases the potential value of Brian Goodwin because now he probably doesn’t get any kind of regular at-bats off of the bench either.
- Platoon Brett Phillips and Jorge Bonifacio in RF. This still impedes on their development, as they would never see same-handed pitchers, and still doesn’t allow Brian Goodwin to collect any kind of meaningful at-bats.
- Send both Brett Phillips and Jorge Bonifacio to AAA Omaha and allow Brian Goodwin to be the every day right fielder. Jorge Soler is the all-time DH and fourth outfielder while Terrance Gore assumes his role as pinch running specialist.
- Send one of Brett Phillips or Jorge Bonifacio to AAA Omaha, DH Jorge Soler, and allow Brian Goodwin to be the all-time fourth outfielder while Terrance Gore assumes his role as pinch running specialist.
Let’s make this abundantly clear: Terrance Gore is not going to take at-bats away from anyone. Instead, he may actually be ensuring that someone is going to get regular at-bats.
It wouldn’t make any sense for the Royals to put Gordon, Hamilton, Soler, Goodwin, Bonifacio, and Phillips on the same roster. Bonifacio and Phillips NEED every day at-bats to continue their development as major league hitters. They can’t do that at the major league level in 2019 after the signing of Billy Hamilton. In my opinion, the signing of Terrance Gore may hint that the Royals don’t believe Brett Phillips and/or Jorge Bonifacio are ready for big league at-bats to begin 2019.
I firmly believe that every single member of the group of Alex Gordon, Billy Hamilton, Brian Goodwin, and Terrance Gore could be traded by the July trade deadline. They all have some value that could be of service to a contending team in the right situation. Once they are traded, or benched, or DFA’d, or what ever, there will be room in the big leagues for both Phillips and Bonifacio. This won’t be a season long demotion. Neither Phillips nor Bonifacio hit very well in the big leagues in 2018 and I think it would be reasonable to get them both a half season’s worth of at-bats in AAA before giving them every day roles in the big leagues. Terrance Gore helps aid in that process, not get in the way of it.
The Royals are going through a rebuild. They have guys in the outfield that are in need of every day at-bats for a variety of reasons (money, development, trade value, etc.). Having too many of those guys sitting on the bench at the big league level would be a detriment to the rebuild. It would be much better for the careers of Phillips and Bonifacio to get regular playing time in AAA than to sit in the big leagues. Terrance Gore does not get in the way of any of that, and at least he’ll make watching the big league club fun while he’s here.