Lopez’s role with the Royals up in the air

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Heading into spring training, the Royals had many unknowns at many different positions including bullpen, first base, outfield, starting rotation and second base. The Royals answered many of these questions through free agency by signing first baseman Carlos Santana, outfielder Michael A Taylor, pitcher Mike Minor, and pitcher Brad Brach. While Brach isn’t on the active roster right now, I believe at some point this season, we will see him in the majors for the Royals. The biggest question for me heading into the 2021 season was second base. Last season, the Royals transitioned Whit Merrifield into an everyday outfielder, making Nicky Lopez next in line for the second base job. Lopez seemed like a good fit at second base at the time in 2020. Although the 2020 season was only sixty games, Lopez, in my opinion, was unable to hold down the fort at second base in 2020 due to his lack of offensive production. In some ways, Lopez’s struggles remind me of former Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar. Both Lopez and Escobar struggled at the plate. Despite Escobar’s struggles at the plate, he was still able to get the ball in play, and he played incredible defense. In my opinion, Escobar played better defense than Mondesi has to this point. This leads us back to the Lopez question. The Royals have many options at second base in 2021, including Hanser Alberto, who they signed to a minor league deal to compete for second base or a bench role. I had hoped that Alberto would take the starting second base job heading into spring training, but my hopes changed very quickly for when Royals top prospect Bobby Witt Jr. burst onto the scene. While Witt Jr. had an incredible spring training with the Royals, I don’t believe the team should just hand him the job until he has at least one full season in the upper minors to develop his craft. This leads to the final question. Who should play second base? The easy answer should be Whit Merrifield, but he is in the outfield, so that ship has sailed. I believe the Royals should consider bringing in a second baseman from the free agent market like Jedd Gyorko. I believe the Royals could get him on a cheap deal thanks to the lack of top remaining free agents on the market. Last season, Gyorko played in 42 games for the Brewers and batted .248. While that’s not a great batting average, he did hit 9 home runs with 17 runs batted in. It’s important to note that Gyorko’s .248 batting average is better than Lopez’s career batting average. I believe this signing could boost our offense a little bit more. Even if the Royals don’t make a free agent signing during the season, I still believe the Royals need to move on from Lopez in a year or two and find a long term solution at second base.

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Author: Connor Miller

I am a huge baseball fan, mainly Royals. I love writing baseball articles. I have been a Royals fan since birth. I am hoping to become a sports journalist someday.

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