SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Royals' outfield logjam may have cleared up a bit with the news of Jorge Bonifacio's 80-game suspension for taking a performance-enhancing drug.But not as much as you might think, according to manager Ned Yost."Right now, we have so much in flux," Yost said. "We don't know
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Royals' outfield logjam may have cleared up a bit with the news of Jorge Bonifacio's 80-game suspension for taking a performance-enhancing drug.
But not as much as you might think, according to manager Ned Yost.
"Right now, we have so much in flux," Yost said. "We don't know how many infielders we'll keep. We don't know about outfielders or the bullpen, [either]."
Yost and his staff are debating whether to keep four or five outfielders, five or six infielders, or seven or eight bullpen arms.
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Bonifacio would likely have been the Opening Day starter in right field, with the plan to get him 500-600 plate appearances this season. Now, right field will probably be filled by either Jonathan Jay or Jorge Soler -- though Soler prefers to play in left field.
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If Jay is in right and Soler in left, Alex Gordon could start the season in center field. But moving Soler or Jay to DH won't be as easy due to Friday's other development -- the signing of third baseman Mike Moustakas, which will push Cheslor Cuthbert to DH on a fairly regular basis.
Paulo Orlando, who likely now has a spot guaranteed because of Bonifacio's suspension, could also see time in center field -- which would push Gordon back to left, where he has won five Gold Gloves. And that, in turn, would push either Soler -- whom the Royals also are trying to get 500-600 plate appearances -- or Jay to DH.
But the DH spot is getting logjammed, as well, and not just because of Cuthbert's presence.
"Cuthbert, [first baseman Lucas] Duda, and Moose will take some of those DH at-bats, too," Yost noted.
If the Royals opt to carry five outfielders, the fifth spot could open up competition between non-roster invites Michael Saunders and Tyler Collins.
A fifth spot among the outfielders could also open up if the Royals decide to carry five infielders, instead of six. Right now, Ramon Torres, who has options, is competing with veteran Ryan Goins, a non-roster invitee, for the sixth spot as a utility infielder.
"We can't say anything with truthfulness or certainty, right now," Yost said.
The Royals could open up a spot for a sixth infielder or a fifth outfielder if they carry seven bullpen arms instead of eight. But that will be a challenge because they have two Rule 5 players in Burch Smith and Brad Keller, who must be kept on the 25-man roster all season or be returned to their original clubs. Those bullpen spots could be filling up fast -- with locks Kelvin Herrera and Brandon Maurer and close-to-lock Kevin McCarthy, plus two more pitchers out of options in Brian Flynn and Wily Peralta.
"Those are all the things we're discussing," Yost said.
Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.