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The Royals should be much more fun to watch in 2019

The Royals supposedly have a roster crunch heading into the off-season, so that better mean lots of young guys in 2019.

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Cleveland Indians Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Royals have been pretty, pretty, pretty bad in 2018. Up until their most recent sweep of Baltimore, they were battling for the first overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. Bad baseball is not always hard to watch, though. You go out and watch your 10-year old nephew play once in a while, right?

I’m kidding. My point is that watching kids struggle on a baseball field is much more enjoyable than watching old men struggle on a baseball field. Would you rather spend $100 watching Lucas Duda and Alcides Escobar waddle around the field, or Brett Phillips and Adalberto Mondesi fly around the field?

The answer is easy. I don’t know why I allow professional sports teams to affect my emotions, but I do. I get so frustrated watching Alcides Escobar continue to be one of the worst players in baseball while young guys rot in the minors. I doubt that Ramon Torres and Frank Schwindel will be a part of the Royals next playoff team, but I KNOW Alcides Escobar won’t be. I digress.

That should not be an issue in 2019. The Royals left Frank Schwindel in the minor leagues this September because they have several young players that they feel warrant protecting from the Rule 5 Draft. Fantastic. I’m ready to watch them play in Kansas City. Here are a list of players that I feel are due a significant amount of playing time in the big leagues in 2019, along with their age on Opening Day:

  • Alex Gordon, 35
  • Brett Phillips, 24
  • Brian Goodwin, 28
  • Jorge Bonifacio, 25
  • Jorge Soler, 27
  • Hunter Dozier, 27
  • Adalberto Mondesi, 23
  • Whit Merrifield, 30
  • Nicky Lopez, 24
  • Ryan O’Hearn, 25
  • Salvador Perez, 28
  • Cam Gallagher, 26
  • Danny Duffy, 30
  • Ian Kennedy, 34
  • Jakob Junis, 26
  • Brad Keller, 23
  • Eric Skoglund, 26
  • Jorge Lopez, 26
  • Heath Fillmyer, 24
  • Tim Hill, 29
  • Brandon Maurer, 28
  • Kevin McCarthy, 27
  • Jake Newberry, 24
  • Josh Staumont, 25
  • Richard Lovelady, 23

That is 25 players. 12 position players, 13 pitchers. Now, that is certainly not the Opening Day roster. I am 99% confident that Nicky Lopez and Whit Merrifield will not be on the big league roster at the same time. Those are just 25 guys that I expect the Royals to find playing time for, one way or the other. That list doesn’t even include Nate Karns, Glenn Sparkman, Jerry Vasto, Brian Flynn, Jesse Hahn, Scott Barlow, Trevor Oaks, Frank Schwindel, or a backup infielder (Rosell Herrera, Ramon Torres, or Humberto Arteaga). That takes our list of guys that need big league time up to 36 players, potentially.

Some might say this is a good problem to have. Having too many guys deserving of a shot in the big leagues is a good thing, right? long as they’re all good, it is. The problem here seems to be that the Royals have a ton of AAAA guys that are just stop-gaps until they find a more permanent solution. Here’s the good news.

Only four players on that list are 30 years old or older. Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, Whit Merrifield, and Alex Gordon. Duffy, Kennedy, and Gordon aren’t going anywhere. They’re all under big contracts that will keep them off the bench. Gordon and Kennedy have been straight up untradeable and in the case of Duffy, I doubt anyone would take on that money with his injury history.

I want to see Whit Merrifield traded this off-season. Nicky Lopez is ready to play second base in the big leagues and the Royals have plenty of cheap options (Herrera/Torres/Arteaga) that can give him a break when necessary. The outfield is completely full. Your second baseman of the future will be ready in 2019. You have stop-gaps in place if he (Lopez) needs more time in AAA to begin the season. Trade Whit. Capitalize on his incredible 2018 season and let him go play for a contender before he falls out of his prime. Help this rebuild. It just makes sense at this point. I’m also not sure where on earth Lopez fits into the future of this team if Whit isn’t traded.

Trading Whit also lowers that number of 30-year olds on the roster to three. That’s not terrible for a rebuilding team. It will certainly be easier to watch than Lucas Duda, Alcides Escobar, Blaine Boyer, and Jason Hammel.

I don’t expect the Royals to be a .500 baseball team in 2019. I guess it’s possible...but I won’t hold my breath. I said on “Breakin’ the Norm” with Les Norman yesterday evening that I think they’ll win 70. The defense will be good. There will be speed. The bullpen will be much improved. This team will be much more fun to watch. The Royals have no excuses for signing free agents this off-season. They’ve told us what they think of this group of players that they have. They like them enough to protect them from the Rule 5 and keep one of their most successful hitters in the minor leagues as a consequence. That’s all fine and good, but it better mean that we get to watch a team full of kids and rookies in 2019, because they are the future, and that’s what we want to see in Kansas City.