Inbox: Can Singer be Royals' fifth starter?

January 31st, 2020

KANSAS CITY -- FanFest is in the books. The Royals loaded their moving trucks for Spring Training on Thursday, and the trucks will arrive in Surprise, Ariz., on Monday.

In other words, Feb. 11, when pitchers and catchers report, is just around the corner.

With that backdrop, let’s get right to your questions for this week’s Royals Inbox:

I truly believe that one of the Royals’ young pitching prospects -- , , , etc. -- have a legitimate shot at making the rotation. The Royals’ won’t need a fifth starter until sometime in early April, so the pressures of opening the season with the team -- always a concern for the Royals when it comes to young players -- may have faded a bit by the time it’s necessary to throw that youngster into the fire. The Royals, under Dayton Moore, are not into service time manipulation. For the most part, when they believe a player is ready, he comes up. They understandably are a little more cautious with young pitchers, but I think this camp holds some intrigue because new skipper Mike Matheny and Moore are on the same page -- let the talent surface when it does.

I asked Moore about that at FanFest and he said, “We don’t put limitations on our guys. We have a battle plan like anyone else. We have a script like anyone else on when a player might be ready to make it to the Major Leagues. [But] strong organizations, healthy organizations, aren’t afraid to be flexible in their plans. The player ultimately tells us if they are ready.”

Probably the one question I’ve received the most this offseason and with good reason. The Royals stand to likely double their local TV revenue with a new deal with FOX Sports Kansas City. I’ve reported that the deal could bring in somewhere around $48-52 million per year. I know it sounds redundant but they are very close to signing the final documents. Sources tell me it will get done in time to televise some Spring Training games, and that there will be “no interruption” of televising games.

Both and are out of options so I would assume they both make the Opening Day roster. The Royals need that outfield depth because there will be times when and might return to play the infield on occasion, and because , at 35, likely won’t play in 150 games as he did in 2019. The Royals haven’t given up on Phillips or Starling by any means.

This is the type of low-risk deal ($1.25 million) that small-market teams like the Royals need to do. , 34, doesn’t have the velo he had in his glory run with the Royals but he still has a quality splitter, and he would be a valuable presence in the clubhouse (as would). Moore told me he was open to bringing back Holland when I asked him about it at the Winter Meetings -- the one thing about Holland is that he is a gladiator on the diamond. He will give you everything he’s got. He’ll throw left-handed if his right arm is broken just to try to get you out. Heck, he pitched almost an entire season in 2015 with a torn UCL.

I agree with Matheny that will have a breakout year.

I’m curious, too. I can tell you that I’ve talked to numerous players about their impressions of Matheny and they’ve all said the same thing: Matheny has a commanding presence to him. Several players told me, in a positive way, “I don’t really want to mess with him.” Hmmm.

The Great Balbino, obviously. I thought Balbino Fuenmayor was the next great thing (.358, 17 home runs in 2015 in the Minors) but that knee injury late in 2015 seemed to doom his career.

There were a lot of moving parts. The Royals had to clear space on the 40-man roster, they had a buyout clause that was due Gordon in January and there was some minor haggling on the contract (the Royals were hoping to get him for $3-3.5 million). But that he was coming back wasn’t in much doubt.

Well, there are two right off the top -- Nick Heath and Khalil Lee. Heath has a very good chance of breaking camp with the team as the 26th man because of his speed. Matheny will like that weapon off the bench.

The Reds went through a long drought since winning 90 games in 2013 (life in the small market). They have made strides in the last two years and management has decided to go all in. This is the small-market formula. I expect new owner John Sherman to follow the same example once he and Moore believe the Royals are close to contention. Maybe, hopefully for the fan base, it’s after this season.

I’d be surprised if closer isn’t dealt at the Trade Deadline. Most of his $70 million deal will be off the books, making it much easier to deal him than last July. He would be a great addition for a contender -- he is a fearless competitor who is a plus in the clubhouse.

Earlier the better. Come the first week when games start. Everyone is in a good mood then. By the end of camp, it can get grumpy among all of us.

Great question. The Royals view the PCL numbers a little like they do Spring Training numbers: As Moore has said, “You’re never quite as good as the Spring Training numbers say you are or never quite as bad.” Arizona numbers are inflated because the ball flies out of the parks and because the infields are like granite -- it’s not hard to boost your numbers. PCL numbers are similar in their inflation.