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A way too early post-trade deadline 25-man roster prediction

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What will the Royals look like by the end of July?

Arizona Diamondbacks Kansas City Royals
KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 30: Jorge Bonifacio #38 of the Kansas City Royals hits a three-run home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the sixth inning at Kauffman Stadium on September 30, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri.
Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

The thing about rebuilding teams is that their rosters can change pretty drastically as prospects come up, veterans are traded, and rookies wash out or encounter struggles. The Kansas City Royals are a rebuilding team, and their roster come August 1 will be very, very different from the one that they began with in March.

But how different? And who will be on it? This is my guess, a waaayyyy too early post-trade deadline 25-man roster prediction. This is indeed just a prediction, based on current trajectories of the team and organization, and there are plenty of opportunities for individual success or failure to throw these predictions for a loop.

Also of note that I’m not going to bother predicting the September roster, which is likely going to feature pretty much everyone on the 40-man that is healthy and available. So without further ado, here we go:

INFIELD

  • Cheslor Cuthbert
  • Alcides Escobar
  • Adalberto Mondesi
  • Ryan O’Hearn
  • Ryan Goins
  • Hunter Dozier

Who won’t be here

Mike Moustakas and his elite power in the corner infield is almost assuredly going to attract a few suitors in July. Likewise, this summer is just about the perfect time to trade 29-year-old Whit Merrifield, and his production and defensive flexibility will be attractive like a Ben Zobrist-lite. Lucas Duda will either be traded (if good) or released (if bad).

Why these guys will be here

Let’s make no mistake: with no clear second baseman, Mondesi slides in everyday at Whit’s old spot. Yes, he would be better served at shortstop, but as long as Escobar is on the roster and is still continuing his games started streak Mondesi will only play short as a mid-game replacement. Goins stays at backup middle infield. O’Hearn and Dozier, who will have nothing left to prove in Triple-A Omaha by this point, take the roster spots of Duda and Moustakas, respectfully.

Other infield options

It’s possible Duda stays the whole year, as his type of rent-a-bat won’t command that much interest, especially if he’s in between struggling and succeeding. It’s also possible the Royals don’t pull the trigger on a Whit trade quite yet. Nicky Lopez, who is in Double-A Northwest Arkansas and has some truly special plate discipline, could be a quick riser and make his debut as utility infielder. Ramon Torres, who played 33 games for Kansas City last year, could see a promotion as well.

OUTFIELD

  • Alex Gordon
  • Bubba Starling
  • Jorge Soler
  • Jorge Bonifacio

Who won’t be here

After Gordon’s return from injury and Soler’s steps forward at the plate, Abraham Almonte has been thrust pretty clearly in the fourth outfield role even now, and that’s before some key youngsters get promotions. Jon Jay will also be attractive to some team looking for left-handed outfield depth, and will likely be traded.

Why these guys will be here

Gordon ain’t going anywhere, ditto Soler. Bonifacio, who had a quietly productive rookie season last year, will be eligible to return after his 80-game suspension for using performance enhancing drugs. And Starling...well, if this isn’t the year, it’s not gonna be the year. If he catches fire for literally any period of time at Triple-A Omaha you can bet the Royals will call him up.

Other outfield options

Like Duda, Jay’s trade market may not exist all that much, and Ned Yost and Dayton Moore sure love their gritty veterans. Depending on how the infield shakes out, Dozier could end up playing a lot of corner outfield. Paulo Orlando still exists, and he might get another chance this year.

CATCHER

  • Salvador Perez
  • Drew Butera

Why won’t Cam Gallagher be here?

Inventory, that’s why. As long as Perez and Butera are healthy, the Royals will opt to keep Gallagher in Triple-A so he’s ready to fill in when need be. If the Royals simply release Butera in favor of Gallagher, they don’t have a clear third option in case of an injury to Perez or Gallagher.

There is no chance of Moore trading Perez. Sorry?

STARTING PITCHER

  • Eric Skoglund
  • Jakob Junis
  • Ian Kennedy
  • Trevor Oaks
  • Scott Barlow

Who won’t be here

Jason Hammel is pretty much the prototypical starting pitching depth that every playoff team can use, so he’ll be traded. Trade rumors swirled around Danny Duffy in the offseason, and they should swirl more intensely during the trade deadline this year.

Why these guys will be here

Kennedy has too much money left on his deal to be traded. Gonna have to wait until next year to see if someone will bite, even with a monetary contribution by Kansas City. Skoglund and Junis will also keep their spots as incumbents. Oaks was the first guy called up for a spot start this year, suggesting he’s next on the Royals depth chart. Barlow is just a dude in this scenario. Bad teams need dudes to fill in as starters. Them’s the rules.

Other starting pitching options

Generic Veteran Number Six, acquired from the scrap heaps or for cash considerations or something. Think another Clay Buchholz-type. If Duffy continues his struggles, the Royals would be wise to sit on him, hope for a second-half rebound, and trade him in the offseason. Nate Karns could eventually return as a starter depending on health.

RELIEF PITCHER

  • Burch Smith
  • Brad Keller
  • Tim Hill
  • Brian Flynn
  • Richard Lovelady
  • Jason Adam
  • Kevin McCarthy
  • Nate Karns

Who won’t be here

Brandon Maurer, Justin Grimm, and Blaine Boyer won’t be in the organization at this point. Other minor leaguers may or may not be at either point on the I-29 Brandon Finnegan Memorial Expressway.

Why these guys will be here

Smith and Keller have to be, as they are both Rule 5 guys and required to stick on the 25-man roster the entire season in order to stay Royals. McCarthy is an underrated and cromulent reliever, the type that exists somewhere in most MLB bullpens. Adam is simply destroying minor league relievers in his return to organized baseball, and Lovelady has been pretty good himself. Karns’ most likely spot to return to from injury is the bullpen.

Other relief options

Josh Staumont is probably the ninth guy here; he has ridiculous strikeout totals but a still troubling walk rate the Royals may want him to continue improving. Any number of random minor leaguers doing well in the moment at Triple-A Omaha may make an appearance. Guys like Eric Stout, Jonathan Dziedzic, Heath Fillmyer, Seth Maness, etc. Kyle Zimmer is a bullpen arm, if he ever stays healthy longer than six seconds.