SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Embrace the rebuild. It could be a lot of fun.That will be the message from the Royals, general manager Dayton Moore and manager Ned Yost as the club embarks on Spring Training. Pitchers and catchers report on Tuesday.• Spring Training informationAfter advancing to the World Series in
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Embrace the rebuild. It could be a lot of fun.
That will be the message from the Royals, general manager Dayton Moore and manager Ned Yost as the club embarks on Spring Training. Pitchers and catchers report on Tuesday.
• Spring Training information
After advancing to the World Series in 2014 and winning it all in '15, the Royals now must retool for their next run at a possible championship. And it all starts here, as the club will have numerous camp battles for positions that should provide for an intriguing six weeks.
"I think we're all energized for this," Moore said. "We've been through this before and we're here again, but I think this time around will be different. We're more experienced at this and quite possibly the rebuild will take less time."
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The Royals last engaged in a serious rebuild not long after Moore arrived in 2006. By 2011, many of his top picks, including Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, and several other core players acquired through trades or signed as non-drafted free-agents like Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar and Salvador Perez, began to get a taste of the big leagues.
By 2013, that core put together the club's first winning season since 2003.
"We've got several players who are young but who have had a taste of success at the big league level," Yost said. "Guys like [Jorge Bonifacio] and [Jorge Soler] and [Paulo Orlando] and [Whit Merrifield] and [Cheslor Cuthbert]. We didn't have that advantage last time around."
The Royals' rotation also seems advanced from the last rebuild with veterans like Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, Jason Hammel and Nate Karns, along with sophomore Jakob Junis, who went 9-3 with a 4.30 ERA in his rookie season.
The biggest question likely is in the bullpen. Moore has taken great pride throughout his tenure with the Royals in building a shutdown 'pen, even before the team began competing for the playoffs. But gone are late-inning stalwarts such as Greg Holland, Wade Davis, Luke Hochevar, Ryan Madson and others.
The Royals still have Kelvin Herrera, who lost his closer's job to Mike Minor last September. But while Herrera might start the spring as the closer, he also is a potential trade chip. The closer's role eventually could be a battle among Herrera, Wily Peralta -- a free-agent signee from the Brewers who throws in the high 90s, but who has been primarily a starter in his career -- and Brandon Maurer, who also throws in the upper 90s. The Royals also are intrigued by right-hander Burch Smith, acquired in a Rule 5 Draft trade.
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"We're going into camp with a lot of competition at a lot of positions," Yost said.
The first full-squad workout is scheduled for Feb. 19. The first Spring Training game is slated for Feb. 24 against the National League champion Dodgers at Surprise Stadium.
Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.