The KC Royals do not need to set their Major League Opening Day roster until 3pm ET on Sunday and it sounds as though the decisions for the final spots will come down to the wire. It also seems as though all the final spot decisions revolve around veteran reliever Ryan Madson.
About a week ago, Madson stated he did not know when his opt-out date was and that he was happy to just be pitching pain-free. He also said he was willing to head to the minors for more seasoning. Now it seems he can and will opt out if a club gives him a big league offer.
So now Madson is back in the Royals final bullpen spot conversation.
The problem is that the Royals don’t feel 100% sure that Madson is ready after missing the last three seasons, but they do not want to lose him. If he makes the Opening Day roster, they will carry an extra reliever (giving them eight), which was the same scenario they gave if Luke Hochevar wasn’t starting the season on the DL.
Let’s just say Madson makes the team. Then the final spot on the roster will go to a reliever (either right-hander Louis Coleman or lefty Brian Flynn and Coleman’s out of options). The Royals wanted to carry an extra bench player, but that would mean that all three battling for the fifth outfield spot (Paulo Orlando, Moises Sierra, and Whit Merrifield) would be headed to Triple-A Omaha. The Storm Chasers then would have a surplus of outfield candidates in those three, plus Brett Eibner, Brian Fletcher, Lane Adams, Reymond Fuentes, and Brandon Jacobs.
Unless one of the above were to get hurt or released, that would cause a trickle-down effect to Double-A NW Arkansas, where Ethan Chapman and Jorge Bonifacio are the incumbents (along with new signee Mike Bianucci).
That would also probably mean that Bubba Starling, Terrance Gore, Daniel Rockett, and Fred Ford would all be back in Wilmington (and all the outfielders would then return to Lexington).
The Royals still have infielders Ryan Jackson and Gabriel Noriega in camp battling Christian Colon for the backup infielder spot. If those two take the assignment to Triple-A, that would give Omaha ten infielders (plus Merrifield): Alex Liddi, Matt Fields, and Casey Kotchman at first base, Justin Trapp and Angel Franco at second base, Orlando Calixte and Dusty Coleman at shortstop, and Cheslor Cuthbert at third base, to go along with the three utility guys (Jackson, Noriega, and Merrifield).
I haven’t even delved into the pitchers, where veteran Joe Blanton will be taking a rotation spot in Omaha. Most likely Aaron Brooks, John Lamb, and Yohan Pino will be joining him.
This is why I try to stay away from predicting rosters because all of this makes me crazy. The Royals have a surplus of players at the upper levels due to offseason signings and players deserving promotions. Unless there are alot of injuries in the next few days, there will be A LOT of cuts in the coming days.