Inbox: Are Royals feeling Merri for 2017?

Beat reporter Jeffrey Flanagan answers Kansas City fans' questions

December 21st, 2016

KANSAS CITY -- The end of 2016 is approaching, and Spring Training is less than two months away. So let's do one final Royals Inbox for the year.

Happy holidays everyone and here goes:

Who is not respecting ? General manager Dayton Moore and manager Ned Yost are very high on Merrifield and repeatedly have made it clear that he will compete for the everyday job at second base, along with and . I would be stunned if Merrifield isn't on the 25-man roster when the Royals break camp, and at least a little surprised if he doesn't win the job.

The purpose of trading for was to trim payroll, so it wouldn't make much sense to turn around and suddenly add to payroll. That would put the Royals right back where they started. If they can find a bargain-basement free agent who is a candidate for a big comeback, they could go that route.

Right now, , and possibly would compete for the fifth-starter role. Strahm, though, likely will be needed in the bullpen. It's also likely that Moore's scouting department unearths some free-agent finds who also will compete. and remain free agents. The Royals haven't closed the door on either.

You most likely are going to see right-hander Josh Staumont, who isn't even on the 40-man roster yet. But the Royals officials I have talked to firmly believe he will be a factor in the bullpen in 2017. His fastball can reach 100 mph, and he had a phenomenal second half last season at Double-A. The Royals are not bashful about putting young guys in the bullpen (see Strahm).

That's a great question. With the trade for Soler, the Royals have five outfielders who all can start, including . There's still a chance someone gets traded. If the season started today, would be in center, in left and Soler in right. Orlando and would be backups, though the Royals will have a floating DH -- so when Cain or Soler needed a half-day off, Orlando and Dyson would get playing time.

There has been interest from other clubs in Dyson and Cain. Dyson is cost efficient -- he is projected to make around $2.5 million through arbitration -- and has drawn the most interest. But because Dyson is cost efficient, that is why he appeals to the small-market Royals, too. Cain will make $11 million. But other teams know both are one-year guys (both are free agents after 2017), which makes it harder to deal them.

Yes, the cargos will be back in 2017. My rule is I wear them until the first snow fall, which we had last week, so they are hung up until I get to Surprise, Ariz.