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Inbox: How's lineup look with Deadline near?

Beat reporter Jeffrey Flanagan fields questions from Royals fans
@FlannyMLB
July 22, 2019

With the days winding down until the July 31 Trade Deadline, the Royals still have some work to do. So far, the Royals have traded away catcher Martín Maldonado and right-hander Homer Bailey, while also sending Terrance Gore to the Yankees. Kansas City also designated for assignment right-hander Wily Peralta.

With the days winding down until the July 31 Trade Deadline, the Royals still have some work to do.

So far, the Royals have traded away catcher Martín Maldonado and right-hander Homer Bailey, while also sending Terrance Gore to the Yankees. Kansas City also designated for assignment right-hander Wily Peralta.

Billy Hamilton, Jake Diekman and Lucas Duda remain on the 25-man roster with expiring contracts and almost surely will be moved soon in some fashion.

With that, let’s get to your questions in this week’s Royals Inbox:

OK, here’s a ridiculously early lineup projection:

RF Whit Merrifield
SS Adalberto Mondesi
LF Alex Gordon
3B Hunter Dozier
DH Jorge Soler
C Salvador Perez
1B Ryan O'Hearn
CF Bubba Starling
2B Nicky Lopez

The signing of Duda back in Spring Training was puzzling to many, not just to those who cover the team, but to some inside the clubhouse. The coaching staff -- and I know fans don’t buy this term -- likes Duda’s “veteran presence.” Even as much as I’m around the team on a daily basis, it’s difficult to gauge that value with Duda, and I don’t mean that sarcastically. He’s a very quiet guy, and it’s just difficult to see that influence, especially because two of the players he was to mentor (O’Hearn and Frank Schwindel) aren’t even here.

And Duda’s .150 average with three home runs don’t exactly present a case for a roster spot. Manager Ned Yost told us Saturday that he and general manager Dayton Moore recently discussed plans to get players like O’Hearn back with the Royals, so perhaps that happens soon.

Yes, I reported earlier that the plan is to move Bobby Witt Jr., the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s Draft, to Rookie Advanced ball in Burlington, N.C. That will happen soon.

No, Gordon has told me he does not want to play anywhere else under any conditions.

I’ll be writing more about the TV deal once the Trade Deadline passes. The Royals are waiting on Sinclair Broadcasting to completely finish the deal to acquire the Regional Sports Networks, which includes Fox Sports Kansas City, mainly so they know who to negotiate with.

There’s still a chance a deal gets done before the season ends, but there are a lot of moving parts.

The Royals regard Dozier as their third baseman of the future. His improvement defensively has been remarkable over the past year.

Cheslor Cuthbert's future largely depends on how well O’Hearn plays when he returns.

We have asked Yost several times about the use of an opener, and he is not opposed to it. He just doesn’t think it makes sense for this staff at this time.

The opener isn’t the panacea some make it out to be (ask Seattle).

Just about everyone from that exciting Lexington group last year -- Nick Pratto, Seuly Matias, MJ Melendez -- is struggling mightily at Class A Advanced Wilmington. That’s going to happen sometimes.

The Royals just want to see how they finish this season and how they respond in 2020 before making too many judgments. It’s a very young group, many 20 years old or younger.

It’s very possible Brett Phillips will be here as soon as they are able to move Hamilton. Even then, it will be a challenge to find playing time for Phillips because you have Gordon, Starling and Merrifield in the outfield, and Soler at DH.

But the Royals are very aware of how well Phillips is hitting.

Simple answer is that Meibrys Viloria already is on the 40-man roster, and he is also regarded by the organization as one of its top catching prospects.

Viloria is ranked No. 18 among Royals prospects by MLB Pipeline. Nick Dini just landed on the injured list anyway.

Funny you should ask, because I had a chat with Yost about that recently, and we were recalling a wave of promising pitching prospects several years back in the system that seemed like can’t-miss guys. And they didn’t make it. Point is, you never know about them until they get to the bigs.

From a distance, this wave of pitching prospects from the past two Drafts seems like it almost surely will produce at least two or three front-line guys. The Minor League numbers are encouraging, even exciting, but you just don’t know until they get here.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB.