As we continue our positional looks at the 2018 Kansas City Royals, we evaluate options to roam the spacious confines of the Kauffman stadium outfield.
Jon Jay has been the model of consistency over his 8 year career. Other than a 2015 season derailed by a forearm injury, he has consistently batted in the .290/.350/.390 range while providing sound-enough defense. He steps in as the everyday center fielder.
Jorge Soler possesses offensive tools unlike any other player in the organization currently. He has yet to consistently turn those tools into major league production and can be an adventure at times defensively, but the man traded for Wade Davis will get every opportunity to play (as indicated by his team leading 35 AB already this spring).
Bubba is currently on the shelf with an oblique injury and will miss significant time to start the season.
Yeah. You already know why. Drugs are bad, m’kay?
Triple-O is playing like a man that doesn’t want the team to exercise his final option. The problem is … he has that option. Normally that alone would make the decision for the team. But his .458/.480/.792 line through 10 spring training games is hard to ignore. Add in that he’s the best defensive option of those in “the field” and Paulo just might get to stay with major league team come March 29th.
His place already on the 40 man roster also helps.
Hailing from the Tigers organization, he’s served the extra outfielder role for the past 4 years. He hasn’t found a lot of success (.235/.299/.380, 14 HR, 17 2B and 58 RBI over 502 AB). But he does “play like a Royal” as indicated by the (at least) 732 times that has been said on the spring training broadcasts. He’s seen the 4th most AB of any player in camp this year, so the team is definitely taking a long look to see what’s there.
The most experienced contender of the batch is former All-Star Michael Saunders. In the friendly confines of the Rogers Centre (and the lineup of mashers around him), he hit .253/.338/.478 with 24 HR, 32 2B and 57 RBI in his 2016 All Star season. Unfortunately, that season is the aberration. Take out 2016 and his career line falls to .217/.287/.335, with an average of 7 HR, 12 2B and 26 RBI.
We’ve already got one Alex Gordon in the lineup. We don’t need another one.
Anyone Else? Bueller? Bueller?
The organization has indicated they will work Hunter Dozier primarily as a first baseman moving forward. Sadly, there aren’t really any other outfield prospects anywhere close to ready. Khalil Lee, Seuly Matias and Michael Gigliotti are all outfielders in the top 10 currently, but all are still in the low minors and at least a couple years away.
The team breaks camp with 4 outfielders: Gordo, Jay, Soler and ………….. Paulo Orlando. Neither Saunders nor Collins has shown enough this spring to unseat the known quality of Paulo. Both may end up in Omaha, though honestly I don’t know how that works with non-roster invites.
Super Whit gives you a 5th outfield option as needed.
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