Royals Inbox: Young made stronger in bullpen?

Beat reporter Jeffrey Flanagan answers fans' questions

January 3rd, 2016

The Royals Inbox is back with, hopefully, all the answers to your pressing questions.

We will try to make this a regular thing this offseason and into the regular season. So, let's get started.

I asked Young about that, and the answer was a resounding, "No." The primary reason he faded in September 2014, he said, was because he expended a lot of energy and innings in Spring Training that year just to make the Mariners. The Royals were careful with his workload last Spring Training and in the early season, thus he had plenty in the tank for September and the postseason. I suspect he will follow the same spring regimen this year. The plan is for him to stick in the rotation all season.

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Oh, how I love questions about Royals prospect Balbino Fuenmayor, No. 27 on the club's Top 30 Prospects. And by the way, prepare for another season of annoying tweets from me on The Great Balbino, especially now that he escaped the Rule 5 Draft without being taken by another team. He is coming off ACL surgery and is doing well, I am told, but he may not be ready by Opening Day of the Triple-A season. He'll start the year at Omaha. If he rips up Triple-A pitching again in 2016, the Royals may have their DH for 2017.

I know a lot of fans are down on Omar and question the wisdom of the four-year, $30.25 million contract given him two years ago. It may look bad now that the Royals still owe him a little under $18 million for the next two years, but you have to remember how big the hole was at second base when the Royals signed him. And they had to give him that extra year on the deal just to lure him. In his first year of the deal, he had a career-high 66 RBIs in the regular season, played terrific defense and had a .924 OPS in the World Series.

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Granted, last season was an offensive disaster for Infante, who didn't make the proper adjustments at the plate, almost stubbornly so. But the Royals believe they can convince him to make some changes at the plate, the way they did with Mike Moustakas before last season.

Infante can still turn the double play as well as anyone in league, according to coaches and scouts, second only to Robinson Cano. If prospect Raul Mondesi continues to improve, he could be the Royals' second baseman in 2017, meaning the Royals would only have to eat the final year of Infante's deal and the $2 million buyout should he not rebound.

Hey, I enjoyed your tweets all season and I know how you covet predictions on everything, but the minute anyone covering this game starts claiming they know all the absolutes, they get burned. But I will peg Edinson Volquez as the Opening Day starter. He has earned it.

Please refer to what I recently wrote about the Royals regarding Gordon: Making sense of Gordon's suitors

As general manager Dayton Moore said, the payroll probably won't go significantly up. What does that mean? I'm really just guessing, but I could see it fall in the $115 million-$120 million range, which again would represent a franchise record. It costs a lot of money to keep the nucleus of a championship team together, and that is even a bigger challenge for a small-market team with a bad TV contract.