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Royals demote relievers Richard Lovelady, Josh Staumont, and Josh Taylor

The bullpen comes into focus.

Los Angeles Angels v Kansas City Royals Photo by David Durochik/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The Royals announced they have demoted relievers Richard Lovelady, Josh Staumont, and Josh Taylor to Triple-A Omaha as they come closer to finalizing their Opening Day roster. Staumont is the biggest surprise, having pitched in the last four seasons with the Royals with a 3.82 ERA and 10.1 strikeouts-per-nine-innings. But he battled injuries and ineffectiveness last year, putting up a 6.45 ERA in 37 23 innings.

Lovelady missed most of last year recovering from Tommy John surgery, but like Staumont had pitched very effectively this spring. He was added back to the 40-man roster with the hopes he could pitch like he did in 2021 when he put up a 3.48 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 20 2/23 innings. Like Lovelady, Taylor is coming off a lost season due to injury. The lefty was acquired from Boston in the Adalberto Mondesi trade, but had put up a 3.40 ERA with 60 strikeouts in 47 23 innings in 2021.

With the number of lefties in the bullpen, it is not too surprising that Lovelady and Taylor were demoted, particularly considering they are both recovering from missed time. The fact Staumont was demoted may speak to the improved depth in the bullpen, and requires the 29-year-old fireballer to pitch his way back to the big leagues. Royals general manager J.J. Picollo has said he expects a lot of fluidity in the bullpen, with relievers shuttling up and down in anticipation of potential matchups against opponents.

The moves bring the bullpen picture into sharper focus. Scott Barlow, Aroldis Chapman, and Amir Garrett figure to be locks, barring injury or trade. Dylan Coleman and Taylor Clarke figure to be likely bullpen pieces. Ryan Yarbrough is likely to be the long reliever. That would leave two more spots. Carlos Hernández has impressed in camp and could be a favorite for one spot with Collin Snider and Jose Cuas candidates for the other spot. Non-roster invitees like Nick Wittgren, Mike Mayers, and Ryan Weiss could also be candidates, although adding them would require opening up a 40-man roster spot. The Royals have two spots they could open by placing outfielder Diego Hernandez and pitcher Jake Brentz on the 60-day Injured List, but may also need spots to add non-roster invitee hitters like Franmil Reyes, Jackie Bradley, Jr., José Briceño, Matt Duffy, or Johan Camargo.

The Royals also released a number of minor leaguers, including former big league pitcher Ronald Bolaños, who was not in camp much with the Royals as he was pitching for Cuba in the World Baseball Classic.