KC scouring market for backup middle infielder

Moore: Herrera could be internal option, Royals don't want to rush Lopez

November 27th, 2018

KANSAS CITY -- As the Winter Meetings draw near, one position the Royals may look to fill through free agency or trade is backup middle infielder.

will start at shortstop in 2019, with Whit Merrifield at second base.

But with the expected departure of through free agency, Royals general manager Dayton Moore and his staff will be on the lookout for a backup shortstop.

"I think we'll be very observant and open-minded to veteran players that perhaps are left standing a little bit [in free agency]," Moore told MLB.com. "When you evaluate our current roster, we definitely need someone who can back up at shortstop on the 25-man roster. We have to look at that. Who that is right now, I can't tell you."

Internally, there's only one option on the 40-man roster -- , who hasn't played shortstop in the Major Leagues and hasn't played there regularly since he was in the low Minors in 2014.

"He could be an option," Moore said. "Certainly not out of the question. And it might be an effective way to go right now with all the young guys we have emerging. We know what a quality defender Humberto Arteaga is, and Nicky Lopez, who is someone who is working up quickly."

But club officials will remain prudent about Lopez's development. Lopez, whom MLB Pipeline ranks as Kansas City's No. 7 prospect, doesn't have to go on the 40-man roster until next fall, and the Royals will not elevate him to the big leagues just to be a backup.

"We're going to be open-minded with Nicky, but it's not a situation where ... I've never looked at young players in terms of them having to have a good Spring Training or a bad Spring Training to determine whether they make the team," Moore said. "You don't want a Spring Training to determine that. With young players, you should know before you enter Spring Training whether they're going to be on the team or not, for the most part. We won't use Spring Training to evaluate whether Nicky Lopez can make the team.

"I mean, if a guy who has never played in the big leagues has a good Spring Training, that's good. It's important. And certainly would rather that happen than the other. But it shouldn't be the determining factor."

The free-agent shortstop market, though, is pretty thin after Manny Machado and , and most of those below them still want full-time jobs.

"We certainly will evaluate the trade market as well," Moore said.