As two teams prepare themselves for their shot at a World Series ring, the Kansas City Royals and 27 other ball clubs are hard at work with a different sort of preparation.
As soon as Royals GM Dayton Moore announced that he would seek a power bat for the 2014 lineup, the rumor mill began to churn rapidly. Much to the relief/enjoyment of fans in Kansas City, that lineup is mostly filled with promising offensive contributors, but the two clearly weaker links are second base and right field. So, where should the Royals plan to plug in their new slugger?
As the roster stands today, Emilio Bonifacio is the starter at second base, and Lorenzo Cain would start in right. The Royals still have a decision to make about who starts in center field between Cain and Jarrod Dyson, and both will probably get some time in center next year. Bonifacio will be challenged by veteran Chris Getz and the promising-but-frustrating Johnny Giavotella, not to mention a number of highly-touted prospects in the Royals farm system.
He could share time with any of them, or he could play well enough to earn a more solidified starter’s role.
All these variables bring me to an important point. Both with their infield and outfield, the Royals have a lot of different options as is. Cain could end up consistently starting in center field, which leaves the job in right to either Justin Maxwell or David Lough – two more guys with enough skills to legitimately compete for a starting job.
Cain is a no-doubt starter wherever he ends up playing, and Maxwell contributed some much-needed power in limited time with the team. Lough, seemingly the odd man out, hit .285 with 17 doubles in 96 games. Bonifacio stole 16 bases and recorded 45 hits while playing in just 42 games with Kansas City. All of them add something, but to make a significant difference in the lineup, the Royals need more.
Neither position in their current states will be an embarrassment in 2014, and neither is expected to serve a huge role in the offense’ run-scoring potential. This means the Royals need to focus less on choosing one spot or the other and more on whoever can offer them the most power through free agency/trade this offseason.
Recent stats indicate that all AL teams need legit power to get into the playoffs, and Moore is smart enough to understand this. KC can upgrade at either spot and know that the other will be respectable at minimum, so Moore should and will upgrade at whichever position provides the most pop.