The Royals are on the cusp of mathematical elimination from the postseason, causing many fans to shift their focus to the club’s chances in 2017. With that in mind, a few notes on the reigning World Series champions…
- MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan discusses a number of 2017 roster decisions in his latest Royals Inbox, including multiple questions on Cheslor Cuthbert’s role next season. The 23-year-old has had a solid rookie season at the plate in Kansas City, slashing .277/.322/.415 with 11 homers. However, with Mike Moustakas set to return to the club next year after having suffered a torn ACL earlier this summer, Cuthbert won’t be getting everyday at-bats at the hot corner. Flanagan also writes that Cuthbert isn’t likely to move to second base, either, as the Royals plan to have internal options Raul Mondesi, Christian Colon and Whit Merrifield compete for that gig. Defensive prowess will be the most heavily weighted factor in that position battle next spring, per Flanagan, who writes that each of the three candidates he listed is considered to be a better defensive option than Cuthbert. All of that, it seems, would leave Cuthbert without a regular role on next year’s Royals, so perhaps his ultimate fate will be returning to Triple-A to try to hone his skills at the hot corner (Flanagan points out that Cuthbert has had issues consistently making accurate throws and issues charging balls as well). Moustakas, after all, is a free agent following the 2017 campaign.
- Also included in Flanagan’s column is a look at next year’s right field mix, where both Billy Burns and Jarrod Dyson will be considerations. The Royals, he notes, love speed and contact-oriented players, and both Dyson and Burns fit that mold well. While there’s the potential for some redundancy there, Dyson doesn’t figure to be overly expensive from an arbitration standpoint this winter, and Burns won’t be arbitration eligible this offseason. As such, it doesn’t seem like the Royals need to make a “one or the other” type of decision, and Kansas City could also simply carry both on the roster, as the switch-hitting Burns would give manager Ned Yost some matchup options.
- Yahoo’s Jeff Passan writes in his latest 10 Degrees column that the Royals will “almost certainly” make a qualifying offer to Kendrys Morales on the heels of his impressive summer power surge. I examined the possibility of that scenario last week when looking at Morales’ free-agent stock, noting that it’s a risk for the Royals, considering Morales’ history with the qualifying offer system. After being burned by a QO on the heels of a nice season with the Mariners in 2013, a now-older Morales strikes me as a likely candidate to accept. The downside of Morales on a one-year deal worth about $16.7MM isn’t crippling, but it’s an overpay in a market that has become less rewarding for players with such pronounced defensive limitations. Passan, too, notes that Morales may accept a QO if tendered such an offer by Kansas City.
- While the Royals are restricted on the international market this year thanks to last summer’s spending spree, assistant GM Rene Francisco tells Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star that he’s still happy with the talent the Royals have been able to bring in for relatively marginal bonus figures. “I think we did good with what we got,” the AGM said. “We gave $50,000 here, $100,000, $75,000, $150,000 — we just kind of spread out the money.” And, as Dodd points out, the Royals have a history of landing premium talent for rather unremarkable bonuses. Salvador Perez, Yordano Ventura and Kelvin Herrera were each unearthed by the Royals’ international scouting department and signed for bonuses south of $100K. Kansas City will also be barred from signing players for more than $300K in the 2017-18 signing period.