Royals will have new-look bullpen in 2018

January 9th, 2018

KANSAS CITY -- Just as is the case with the Royals' lineup and rotation, the potential bullpen heading into 2018 surely will undergo more changes.
The club already has traded left-hander and right-hander , and lost closer Mike Minor to free agency. Expect more deals to come that could involve right-hander , who was the closer last season before being demoted in September.
Herrera made $5.325 million last season and is in his final year of arbitration -- general manager Dayton Moore would certainly view trading Herrera as an important step in his goal this offseason of trimming payroll and restocking the farm system.
Duffy, Kennedy atop projected Royals rotation is taking a look at the projected bullpen of all 30 teams ahead of Spring Training. Here's how the Royals might stack up:
Kelvin Herrera, RHP (closer)

There are some power arms here even if the Royals do trade Herrera. Peralta, acquired from the Brewers, can bring it at 96-98 mph, as can Maurer. McCarthy (3.20 ERA in 33 games) and his heavy sinker could be a quality setup guy. Buchter offers the same type of production from the left side (2.67 ERA in 29 outings with a 0.89 WHIP). Almonte and Machado also bring it at 95-mph-plus, and Smith, acquired in a trade through the Rule 5 Draft, has touched 100 mph. The Royals do love power arms in the 'pen.
How Royals' 2018 starting lineup looks today
Who will close in 2018? Minor took over the role in September and went 7-for-7 in save opportunities, but he is now with the Rangers. Two other candidates -- Soria and Alexander -- have been traded. Herrera, if he is still here, would assume the role again, though he seems more comfortable as a setup man. If Herrera is traded, perhaps the Royals try Maurer, who closed for the Padres (33 saves over two seasons), or even Peralta, who has terrific stuff, but he has been an enigma in terms of production. The Royals do have a history of converting starters to late-inning guys (, ).

Stop me if you've heard this before: A lot could change. Moore and his staff are in rebuilding mode, so more deals could be on the way, starting with Herrera. The guess here is Maurer would get first crack at the closer's role, but don't be surprised if Peralta gets a chance to show his talent in that role come Spring Training. The Royals also are hoping some prospects (right-hander Josh Staumont) can emerge in Spring Training and claim a bullpen role. And the club is bullish on Smith as a late-inning guy.