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Royals still have work to do before '19 season

Veteran infielder, bullpen help may still be on Moore's radar
December 19, 2018

KANSAS CITY -- As the Royals gear up toward Spring Training, they still have some work to do before they embark on Surprise, Ariz.Here are three things the club needs to do before Spring Training:1. Find a bullpen arm or two Royals general manager Dayton Moore has only a few

KANSAS CITY -- As the Royals gear up toward Spring Training, they still have some work to do before they embark on Surprise, Ariz.
Here are three things the club needs to do before Spring Training:
1. Find a bullpen arm or two
Royals general manager Dayton Moore has only a few million to spend to keep under his targeted payroll limit of $92 million, so expect Moore to be patient with the relievers market and wait until Spring Training nears before he makes his move. Typically, some bullpen arms hold out through January in hopes of landing $5 million or $6 million deals. When there are no takers, that's when the bargains come. Expect Moore to land a veteran arm or two in the $2 million range to bolster a bullpen that clearly was the weakest link on the 2018 team.
Finances, though, aren't the only reason the Royals won't spend big for a bullpen arm. There will be a lot of sorting out of their staff in Surprise. The club has eight or nine rotation candidates, and those that don't make the rotation likely will be utilized in the bullpen -- and that may include veterans Danny Duffy or Ian Kennedy. "We have to be open-minded about the roles," Moore said.
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2. Add a starter?
It wouldn't be a surprise if Moore and his staff found a cost-efficient veteran starter to add even more depth to the rotation. This may come in the form of a reclamation project, which the Royals have become somewhat famous for -- Chris Young, Joe Blanton, Ryan Madson, etc. Again, if they find such a player, it will be at a bargain price. The club needs to distinguish what young pitchers fit into its future plans, and adding too much veteran depth will only clog up the process. But certainly adding one couldn't hurt.

3. Add a veteran infielder
The Royals did sign utility infielder Chris Owings and they have suggested he will back up Whit Merrifield at second base and Raul Mondesi at shortstop. But Moore likely will add some veteran depth, affordably so, to guard against injury. The club is excited to have Owings, but in the event of injury, it doesn't want to have to rush Nicky Lopez, ranked as Kansas City's No. 7 prospect by MLB Pipeline, if it doesn't have to. The Royals would prefer to let Lopez, who doesn't have to go on the 40-man roster until next fall, continue to develop at Triple-A Omaha until they make him a full-time starter for the future.

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