Inbox: Will Royals carry five outfielders?

Beat reporter Jeffrey Flanagan answers fans' questions

January 21st, 2016

Thanks for all the replies and great questions for this week's Royals Inbox. Hey, we're about four weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting, so it's time to get into the mood.

Let's get started:

Good question. One of the benefits of having Christian Colon on the 25-man roster is his versatility. It's possible the Royals will carry just one backup infielder, because Colon can play shortstop, third base and second base. That would free up a roster spot to carry a fifth outfielder or an extra reliever. It wouldn't make sense to have a prospect like Brett Eibner be a fifth outfielder, because there wouldn't be much playing time involved -- better to have him continue to develop at Omaha. But it might give a guy like Jose Martinez his shot at the bigs.

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I would think it is Drew Butera's job to lose. He's a solid defender, and offensively, he's about the same as Tony Cruz. As for why they traded for Cruz, remember how this organization is built -- the Royals view defense as the top priority, always, and Cruz, who has options left, is an upgrade defensively over Francisco Pena at Triple-A.

He'll be going back to No. 18, at least until the Royals trade for another 18, at which point he'll have to find more room in his garage for outdoor equipment. Remember, last year he got a leaf blower from Ben Zobrist for giving up No. 18. The year before, he gave up No. 18 to Raul Ibanez for a snow blower. Those exchanges may not seem like a lot, but Kuntz points out, "Hey, it's a two-month rental. You can't ask for a car."

Most likely Ian Kennedy will slot behind Edinson Volquez and Yordano Ventura.

That's a really good question. Not sure Tim Collins (Tommy John surgery last March) will be ready by Opening Day. He probably takes the Luke Hochevar route and starts out in the Minors and then becomes ready by May. That would leave Danny Duffy, if he doesn't make the rotation, and/or Brian Flynn, who had a terrific Spring Training a year ago, as your lefties in the bullpen.

Both Dayton Moore and Ned Yost have told me this offseason that it will be an open competition between Omar Infante and Colon, which surprised me a little, considering the Royals are still on the hook for nearly $18 million with Infante. But hey, these are the new-age Royals -- let the best man win at every position and disregard the money.

With your last name, I would just assume a son will be named Dayton.

I'm not saying the players are oblivious to any negative comments about them or regarding projections that appear to slight them, but they have so much confidence in their ability that any criticism just seems to bounce off. I haven't had one player in the last two years complain to me about how others perceived the team, other than they thought the whole "Bad Boys" image from early last year was hysterically off base.


I talked to Yost about that this week, and he said he'll let it play out in Spring Training. What has made Ned a better manager in the last few years is his willingness to really listen to his coaches, and he really does value their input in terms of batting orders and roster moves and lineup issues. He mentioned Mike Moustakas, of course, for the No. 2 spot because Moose did it for much of last year. And Alex Gordon is another obvious candidate.

The funny thing is, Infante said his arm and shoulder felt pretty good all last season. He injured an oblique late in the season, but his arm strength was as good as it has ever been, according to Yost. The Royals have no worries about Infante's defense -- he still has decent range, he charges grounders as well as any second baseman in the league, and his turn at second is still as quick as anyone not named Robinson Cano. But offensively, the Royals need to see Infante make adjustments at the plate. He gets far too stubborn in his approach and becomes an easy out too often on inside soft stuff and hard stuff away.

I talked to Danny Duffy a few weeks ago, and he has been told to prepare as if he'll be a starter. But he'll be in a battle with Kris Medlen and Chris Young for the final two spots. Duffy has proven he can be effective in the bullpen, so it's certainly a win-win for the Royals. They'd love for him to be a starter, but if not, they get another power arm for their shutdown bullpen.

OK, everyone, that's it for this week. Thanks again for the great response.