A little after I posted my Week 2 position battles update this morning, the KC Royals decided to trim their spring training roster. With today’s moves, the team now has 46 active players in camp (not counting Jason Vargas but including Mike Minor and Tim Collins), with 14 of them being non-roster invitees.
Today’s moves also clear up some of the position player battles.
The Royals reassigned 17 players to minor league camp.
Pitchers Brooks Pounders, Jonathan Dziedzic, Christian Binford, Sam Selman, and Aroni Nina were assigned to minor league camp. Fellow pitchers Kyle Zimmer and Miguel Almonte were optioned to Triple-A, while Alec Mills was optioned to Double-A.
After both Zimmer and Almonte only threw one inning this weekend instead of being stretched out to four innings, it was obvious these two weren’t being considered for a rotation spot anymore.
Infielders Hunter Dozier and Balbino Fuenmayor were reassigned to minor league camp, while Ramon Torres was optioned to Double-A. Dozier had been getting a lot of playing time and had been hitting (which is a positive sign), but Cheslor Cuthbert is now on the lineup card after sitting out a week with a back issue.
Outfielders Brett Eibner and Jose Martinez were optioned to Triple-A, while Bubba Starling and Jorge Bonifacio were optioned to Double-A. Eibner hadn’t done anything close to what he did last spring, though he did walk six times. Starling was also struggling, though Bonifacio was impressing. However neither had played above the Double-A level.
The one surprise cut today was Martinez, especially after his offensive performances last season in Triple-A and in winter ball this offseason. Manager Ned Yost said after the cuts that both he and Eibner needed regular at-bats and they will get them in minor league camp (though the minor leaguers only have one game scheduled this week outside of an intrasquad game).
Catchers Zane Evans and Cam Gallagher were reassigned to minor league camp, with the Royals leaving Parker Morin (along with backup contenders Tony Cruz and Drew Butera and starter Salvador Perez) in big league camp.
A few surprises that are still in big league camp are lefty Matt Strahm, infielders Raul Mondesi and Cody Decker, and outfielder Terrance Gore. Strahm is scheduled to pitch today and could start one of Saturday’s split squad games (either in Arizona or Texas) and then be reassigned to minor league camp (or maybe he sticks around to compete for the lefty reliever role). Mondesi is hitting a respectable .267, but hasn’t shown off his speed and has been playing a lot of second base. However, he really needs more time in the minors (and I still do not understand the Royals continued stance on pushing him when he hasn’t earned a promotion). Decker has only played in seven games. Gore hasn’t played much because he was sick and is 0-for-2 in stolen base attempts.
The outfield competition and/or bench spot competition looks to be down to Paulo Orlando, Reymond Fuentes, Travis Snider, and Whit Merrifield. Others still in the mix include Gore, Mondesi, Decker, Cuthbert, Clint Barmes (with an opt-out date at the end of March), Orlando Calixte, and Dusty Coleman. This group should get a good amount of playing time this weekend, with back-to-back split squad games on Friday and Saturday.
The Royals will have a few more roster moves to make this week, as pitching contenders Dillon Gee and Ross Ohlensdorf have opt-out dates looming. I also believe Brian Duensing‘s opt-out date is at the end of the month.