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Royals have plan for Dozier if free agents leave

KC considering playing club's No. 3 prospect at first or third base
MLB.com @FlannyMLB

KANSAS CITY -- Of the many backup plans that Royals officials have discussed in the event first baseman Eric Hosmer, a pending free agent, signs with another team, one involves former first-round pick Hunter Dozier.

Dozier, 26, has been mostly a third baseman since being drafted No. 8 in 2013, although he has played some outfield and some first base.

KANSAS CITY -- Of the many backup plans that Royals officials have discussed in the event first baseman Eric Hosmer, a pending free agent, signs with another team, one involves former first-round pick Hunter Dozier.

Dozier, 26, has been mostly a third baseman since being drafted No. 8 in 2013, although he has played some outfield and some first base.

One plan going forward in the event of losing Hosmer is having Cheslor Cuthbert play third base next season (assuming pending free agent Mike Moustakas also signs elsewhere) with Dozier potentially at first base.

That scenario, of course, depends on how much Dozier impresses the coaching staff next spring. Dozier has just 19 big league at-bats under his belt, but the Royals have made it clear they could be in position for a rebuild.

Another scenario would have Dozier at third base and Cuthbert at first base. Cuthbert impressed the coaching staff last Spring Training with his athleticism at first base in limited appearances there.

"If both of those guys earn a spot on the team, it's a matter of how we line up best defensively," Royals assistant general manager J.J. Picollo told MLB.com. "If Cuthbert is the better defender at third, and to get Dozier on the team, Dozier could play first."

Dozier, the Royals' No. 3 prospect per MLB Pipeline, presently is playing in the Mexican League where he has three home runs in nine games with an .894 OPS.

Dozier is playing mostly third base there.

"The plan is to primarily play him at third base with some first base," Picollo said. "The goal is just about at-bats.

"He's been playing [first base] enough over the past couple of years that we're not overly concerned if he gets work at first base down there. It's more just about drill work at first base for him, working on footwork, being on the bag, off the bag. That is more about practice than game situations.

"There is something to be said about game experience but he needs more drill work than anything."

Dozier has intriguing potential as a first baseman -- at 6 feet 4, he has a large wing span, much like Hosmer.

"And he's very athletic with very good hands," Picollo said. "And he has range."

Dozier likely won't play much more outfield. That was an experiment based on the possibility of Alex Gordon leaving for free agency two years ago. And the emergence of Jorge Bonifacio has secured the right-field position in the minds of club officials.

Dozier is coming off an almost wasted season: He suffered an oblique strain coming out of Spring Training and missed April and May. Then in early June, he suffered a broken hamate bone in his right hand and missed six more weeks.

That is the principal reason Dozier is playing Winter Ball.

"Just trying to get him some at-bats so he's ready for Spring Training," Picollo said.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Hunter Dozier