Despite some uncertainty, spring training will begin on time with the first Royals workout taking place today. Spring training will look a bit different with safety protocols and only 75 players allowed to participate in big league camp, with minor league camp to begin later. The Royals have invited 29 non-roster invitees in addition to the players on the 40-man roster.
With the Royals set to open the regular season on April 1 against the Rangers, who do you predict will be on the 26-man roster? Let’s take a look at how the roster looks.
*-denotes a player not on the 40-man roster
Catcher: Salvador Perez
Trying to make the team: Cam Gallagher, Meibrys Viloria
Gallagher is the more experienced player to backup Salvy, but he has an option remaining (at least I think so, Jeffrey Flanagan has reported he doesn’t, but he has only been sent down twice, and Roster Resource has him with one remaining). Viloria is definitely out of options, so the Royals may look to deal one of them in spring training to a team needing a young backstop.
Infielders: Hunter Dozier, Nicky Lopez, Adalberto Mondesi, Carlos Santana
Trying to make the team: Hanser Alberto*, Lucius Fox, Kelvin Gutierrez, Jeison Guzman*, Erick Mejia*, Ryan O’Hearn, Bobby Witt, Jr.*
The starters seem set here, and Alberto seems very likely to make the team as a reserve infielder and possibly a platoon partner with Lopez. Fox, Gutierrez, and O’Hearn all have options and seem likely to be starters for Omaha this year. Dayton Moore has pretty much said Bobby Witt, Jr. will begin the season in the minors, despite impressing coaches in camp last summer.
Outfielders: Andrew Benintendi, Whit Merrifield, Jorge Soler, Michael Taylor
Trying to make the team: Nick Heath, Ryan McBroom, Edward Olivares, Bubba Starling*
Again, the starters seem pretty set, and Edward Olivares seems like a good bet to be the fourth outfielder. The Benintendi trade that sent Khalil Lee and Franchy Cordero out of town probably opens up a spot for someone, perhaps the speedy Nick Heath, or 28-year old Bubba Starling.
Starting pitchers: Kris Bubic, Danny Duffy, Brad Keller Mike Minor, Brady Singer
Trying to make the team: Jackson Kowar*, Asa Lacy*, Daniel Lynch*, Ervin Santana*
Barring injury, the rotation seems rather set, although the Royals could very well go with a six-man rotation to begin the year and ease the starters back into a regular workload. Ervin Santana has a history as a starter, but at his age, his road back to the big leagues may be through the bullpen.
Relievers: Scott Barlow, Jesse Hahn, Greg Holland, Jakob Junis, Josh Staumont, Kyle Zimmer
Trying to make the team: Scott Blewett, Ronald Bolaños, Wade Davis*, Carlos Hernández, Richard Lovelady, Jake Newberry, Carlos Sanabria*, Eric Skoglund*, Gabe Speier*, Daniel Tillo, Angel Zerpa, Tyler Zuber
The Royals will likely carry eight relievers, unless they begin with a six-man rotation. Kyle Zimmer still has an option year left if the Royals want to use it, but he should have a spot if healthy. Tyler Zuber looked impressive last year and should have an inside track, and Carlos Hernández has looked good in limited big league action as well, although the Royals may see him as a starter. The competition for left-handed reliever is wide-open, although Daniel Tillo was impressive until he needed Tommy John surgery and missed all of last year, and Richard Lovelady has put together a solid minor league résumé.
Who do you predict will be on the 26-man roster?