Dayton Moore: ‘For the most part, the club is set’
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Spring training doesn’t begin until later this week, but already the Royals’ roster is taking shape.
Royals general manager Dayton Moore held his final press conference Monday before coaches, players and front-office personnel convene in Surprise, Ariz., and Moore revealed some telling information on how that roster might shape up.
For openers, Moore indicated the team almost surely will break camp with 12 pitchers. He also said the team was "leaning" toward carrying five outfielders.
What that means is the Royals very well could open the season without a backup middle infielder.
The roster likely would consist of 12 pitchers, five outfielders, two catchers and six infielders. The list of infielders would include designated hitter/first baseman Billy Butler and corner infielder Danny Valencia, whom the Royals acquired from Baltimore for David Lough, along with the starting infield of Eric Hosmer, Omar Infante, Alcides Escobar and Mike Moustakas. Valencia is a virtual lock to make the roster because he is out of options and the club has control of him through 2017.
"Just based on Lorenzo Cain’s health (history), I would expect us to leave camp with five (outfielders)," Moore said. "It’s not out of the question we go with four (outfielders) but … .
"With the way it’s set up now it would be very difficult to carry five and also carry an extra (middle) infielder. It’s not a slam dunk we go with five outfielders, but based on Lorenzo’s health history, we would be leaning toward five."
With the number of open dates and the potential for rainouts in April and May, the Royals believe it’s possible they can get by without a backup middle infielder and thus use shortstop Escobar and second baseman Infante on an everyday basis.
"We’ll see how the roster shakes out after the first 40 or 50 games," Moore said. "We’ll continue to massage our roster as the season goes on."
Emilio Bonifacio once had been slated for a backup middle infielder role, but he recently was designated for assignment. On Monday, the Royals requested unconditional waivers on Bonifacio. Teams will have 48 hours to claim him or he will become a free agent.
There still is likely to be some heated competition during Royals camp. The final spot in the rotation will be up for grabs, though the Royals continue to send messages they would like Yordano Ventura to take command of that spot behind James Shields, Jason Vargas, Jeremy Guthrie and Bruce Chen.
Prospect Kyle Zimmer isn’t slated to throw until late March, Moore said, which would eliminate him from consideration. But the Royals also intend to give Luke Hochevar, Wade Davis, Danny Duffy, Brad Penny and Chris Dwyer a shot as well at the final rotation spot.
Hochevar indicated during the team’s recent FanFest he wasn’t conceding a spot in the rotation to anyone, and that returning to the rotation was his priority.
Moore also said Monday not to discount Dwyer’s chances.
"He has a great overhand curve, a good changeup, and he’s picked up some velocity on his fastball," Moore said. "He’ll certainly be given a chance to compete."
There also will be competition for the backup catcher spot behind Sal Perez between Brett Hayes, who is out of options, and Ramon Hernandez, a former All-Star who isn’t on the 40-man roster.
The battle for the two backup outfield spots also will be interesting to watch during the spring — Justin Maxwell, Jarrod Dyson and recently acquired Carlos Peguero are all out of options. And all three are under club control through at least 2016.
"The main thing is we want to hold onto as much value and depth as we can," Moore said.
Peguero was a big power threat in the Mariners’ system and will add some intriguing competition for the backup outfield spots.
"He’s out of options, so he’ll have to make our team," Moore said of Peguero, "but he’ll get a chance to compete and we’ll see how it works in the future. He gives us more depth, especially depth with power."
There also will be competition for one or two spots in the seven-man bullpen.
"We’ll do whatever we can to carry the best 12 (pitchers) we can," Moore said.
But unlike years past, there won’t be nearly as many battles for open roster spots.
"For the most part, the club is set," Moore said.
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email firstname.lastname@example.org.