KANSAS CITY -- Just how Royals manager Ned Yost uses his bullpen in 2019 could be quite different than what fans are accustomed to seeing.
Royals general manager Dayton Moore told MLB.com this week he doesn't anticipate that the team will get locked into definitive bullpen roles, especially coming out of Spring Training, and that the Royals will utilize creativity with the relief corps.
And that means, Moore said, that even Wily Peralta, who was 14-for-14 in save opportunities in 2018 and who recently re-signed with the Royals, isn't a lock as the team's closer.
"I wouldn't sit here and say that Wily Peralta is definitely going to be our closer," Moore said. "I think when you're a team with where we are, we're still finding out a lot about our players, and I don't think it makes sense to go ahead and anoint roles for our pitchers or our players at this point. There are some guys [whose roles] are very obvious, and Wily did an excellent job for us last year.
"But as you know, the most important thing is to make sure that we use our pitchers in a very efficient way to get 27 outs. We need to use our pitchers in a creative and efficient way to get 27 outs and win baseball games.
"The bullpen roles will take care of themselves. And Ned does an excellent job of letting that organically resolve itself, if you will."
Still, Moore knows the overall quality of the bullpen needs to improve. The team's 2018 bullpen ERA of 5.04 was the worst in the American League and 29th in MLB. Of course, that number is a bit skewed, having been bloated by relievers who are now gone, such as Justin Grimm (13.50), Blaine Boyer (12.05) and Brandon Maurer (7.76).
But Moore is on the lookout to improve next year's bullpen with the limited resources he will have. The payroll now is a little more than $80 million, and he indicated the target payroll for 2019 is somewhere around $90 million.
Moore said he will look for improvement internally first.
"We will monitor the trade market and the free-agent market for creative ways to add to our bullpen," Moore said. "But we like our internal options a great deal. We have some depth with young starters, fully realizing that some of those young starter candidates can at times work probably very effectively out of the bullpen, at least potentially, if need be.
"Scott Barlow is a good name. He has pitched really well in Japan. [Richard] Lovelady is a good name. I don't know what the roles will be, but I do know we have enough quality arms between Jorge Lopez and Heath Fillmyer and Glenn Sparkman and Richard Lovelady and Scott Barlow and Trevor Oaks and Eric Skoglund, and I'm maybe missing one or two. We feel like those guys can possibly go in the bullpen if necessary."