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Royals finalize Opening Day roster

@FlannyMLB
March 28, 2019

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals finally set their Opening Day roster after a flurry of last-minute moves, but as expected, the roster is loaded with newcomers. Only nine players who were on the 2018 Opening Day roster are on this year’s squad. Among the new faces are two-feel good stories:

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals finally set their Opening Day roster after a flurry of last-minute moves, but as expected, the roster is loaded with newcomers.

Only nine players who were on the 2018 Opening Day roster are on this year’s squad. Among the new faces are two-feel good stories: right-hander Kyle Zimmer and first baseman/DH Frank Schwindel, who are among eight players on an Opening Day roster for the first time.

Here’s a look at the Royals’ 25-man roster:

Catcher (2): Martín Maldonado, Cam Gallagher
What changed: Everything, once Salvador Perez had Tommy John surgery, which will force him to miss the season. For a while, the Royals postured that they would go with Gallagher and Meibrys Viloria at this position. But they eventually signed Maldonado, and Viloria was optioned to Double-A.

First base (3): Ryan O'Hearn, Lucas Duda, Frank Schwindel
What changed: A whole bunch. Duda was a surprising late-spring signing, and because the Royals will open the season with 13 position players and because outfielder Brian Goodwin was released, a spot opened for Schwindel, who also could be the emergency third catcher. Kansas City will need to jettison a position player come April 10 or so when the pitching staff will expand to 13.

Second base (1): Whit Merrifield
What changed: Nothing, other than that with Goodwin’s release, manager Ned Yost said Merrifield might play more outfield than originally anticipated.

Third base (1): Hunter Dozier
What changed: Dozier, as expected, will get plenty of action at third base or in a loose platoon with O’Hearn at first base.

Shortstop (1): Adalberto Mondesi
What changed: Nothing, other than the expectations for Mondesi keep soaring.

Outfield (4): Alex Gordon, Billy Hamilton, Jorge Soler, Terrance Gore
What changed: A lot. When camp opened, it was believed that Goodwin would get most of the reps in right field. But he had a tough spring offensively and his arm strength seemed suspect. That means that Merrifield could see more time in the outfield, along with utility man Chris Owings.

Utility (1): Chris Owings
What changed: Nothing, other than Owings has proven this spring that he can handle third, shortstop and second, which is what the Royals signed him for. Also, he has shown some pop. As mentioned, he may be asked to play some outfield, too.

Starting pitchers (3): Brad Keller, Jakob Junis, Jorge López
What changed: Our original prediction was that Lopez would follow Keller and Junis, and that has held true. With Danny Duffy starting the season on the injured list, it’s likely that Homer Bailey eventually will move into the No. 4 spot, though Bailey hasn’t been added to the 40-man roster. The Royals won’t need a fifth starter until April 10 or so, and that could be Heath Fillmyer, who was optioned to Omaha recently. Duffy probably won’t be ready until mid- to late-April, after he completes his spring throwing program and a Minor League assignment. He could move to the bullpen when he returns.

Relief pitchers (8): Wily Peralta, Brad Boxberger, Jake Diekman, Tim Hill, Kevin McCarthy, Kyle Zimmer, Scott Barlow, Chris Ellis, Ian Kennedy
What changed: Quite a bit, actually. Kennedy has been moved to the bullpen and could be a high-leverage weapon for Yost. Zimmer had a fantastic spring. Barlow really impressed the coaching staff with his ability to keep his sinker down in the zone. Ellis beat out fellow Rule 5 Draft pick Sam McWilliams for a spot. Yost said he won’t have any defined roles early on in the season for his bullpen, though it seems obvious that Peralta, Boxberger, Diekman and Hill will start out as his high-leverage options.

CATCHERS
Martin Maldonado
Cam Gallagher

INFIELDERS
Hunter Dozier
Adalberto Mondesi
Whit Merrifield
Ryan O’Hearn
Lucas Duda
Frank Schwindel

OUTFIELDERS
Alex Gordon
Billy Hamilton
Jorge Soler
Terrance Gore

UTILITY PLAYERS
Chris Owings

STARTING PITCHERS
Brad Keller
Jakob Junis
Jorge Lopez

RELIEF PITCHERS
Wily Peralta
Brad Boxberger
Jake Diekman
Tim Hill
Ian Kennedy
Kevin McCarthy
Scott Barlow
Kyle Zimmer
Chris Ellis

INJURED LIST
Jesse Hahn (60-day IL, Tommy John surgery)
Salvador Perez (60-day IL, Tommy John surgery)
Danny Duffy (left shoulder impingement)
Brian Flynn (left UCL sprain)
Eric Skoglund (suspended list)

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