Opening Day Roster Thoughts/Predictions

The Royals current 40-man roster situation is perhaps the most unclear it’s been in years in terms of who will be on the 26-man big league roster on Opening Day. There are 37 players on the roster who, in my opinion, have a legitimate shot to break camp with the big league team. The only three players currently on the roster that I don’t think have a legitimate shot to make the Opening Day roster are Diego Hernandez, Alec Marsh, and Jonathan Bowlan. Hernandez is just not ready and Bowlan is still working back from Tommy John Surgery. Alec Marsh could theoretically compete for a bullpen spot, but they’re going to keep developing him as a starter in the minor leagues for now.

That leaves us with 37 players on the 40-man roster plus a handful of non-roster invitees (Camargo/Duffy/etc.) in legitimate competition for 26 spots on the Opening Day roster. I really don’t think the bottom 9 or 10 spots on the roster have been this up in the air in a long time. Let’s split this into categories:

Opening Day Locks (17)

  • Scott Barlow
  • Aroldis Chapman
  • Taylor Clarke
  • Dylan Coleman
  • Amir Garrett
  • Zack Greinke* (SP1)
  • Brad Keller
  • Jordan Lyles (SP2)
  • Daniel Lynch (SP3)
  • Brady Singer (SP4)
  • Josh Staumont
  • Ryan Yarbrough
  • MJ Melendez
  • Salvador Perez
  • Hunter Dozier
  • Bobby Witt Jr.
  • Vinnie Pasquantino

That is 17 locks for the Opening Day roster by my count, including Zack Greinke who has not officially signed at the time of writing this. Obviously things can change with trades/DFA’s/injuries, but assuming all of these guys are healthy and still with the team at the end of Spring Training, I would just assume that they will be on the roster on Opening Day.

With all the competition that we ought to see for the offense, the pitching staff is…pretty set? This is also where injuries are most likely to occur so, take that with a grain of salt. Let’s take a look at the pitchers left with an inside track for the big league staff based on prior experiece:

Pitchers With the Inside Track (7)

  • Kris Bubic
  • Jose Cuas
  • Jonathan Heasley
  • Carlos Hernandez
  • Jackson Kowar
  • Anthony Misiewicz
  • Collin Snider

All seven of those guys spent a semi-considerable amount of time on the big league staff last season. There are two or three of these guys that I really thought would kind of be locked in, but I don’t really know who they would replace on the “locks” list either? Based on my projected rotation, I’d expect some combination of Keller/Yarbrough/Bubic/Heasley/Hernandez/Kowar to compete for the final rotation spot. If one of Keller/Yarbrough wins that spot, that means that a bullpen spot would be open instead. So…I don’t know. I honestly think it would be a good thing if some of these guys got to go back to Omaha for a bit and regroup. They clearly were not all ready for big league action last year.

An Outside Shot (4)

  • Max Castillo
  • Richard Lovelady
  • Josh Taylor
  • Angel Zerpa

Castillo spent some time with the big league club last year, but he feels like a prime candidate to open the season making 10-12 starts in Omaha. Lovelady, Taylor, and Zerpa all missed time due to injury last year and probably ought to start the year in Omaha. I am probably Zerpa’s biggest fan, but even I don’t see a realistic way for him to crack the Opening Day rotation unless he just comes out and dominates during Spring Training.

Hitters That I THINK Make It…(6)

  • Nicky Lopez
  • Michael Massey
  • Kyle Isbel
  • Edward Olivares
  • Drew Waters
  • One of Johan Camargo/Matt Duffy

I’ve only got five locks for the offense, but I’m pretty confident in these six as well. Nicky Lopez was almost a lock for me but he does have three options and was pretty pathetic at the plate last year. I think Michael Massey is the second baseman. I think Isbel, Olivares, and Waters split time between CF and RF with Melendez in LF. Then, I think either Camargo or Duffy makes it as a utility infielder and rotational option at third base with Hunter Dozier. That brings our locks/likely total to 24.

Fighting for the Last Two Spots (6)

  • One of Johan Camargo/Matt Duffy
  • Freddy Fermin
  • Nate Eaton
  • Maikel Garcia
  • Nick Pratto
  • Samad Taylor

If you made me guess the actual offensive roster for Opening Day, here’s how it would look:

  • Melendez LF
  • Isbel CF
  • Waters RF
  • Eaton 3B
  • Witt Jr. SS
  • Massey 2B
  • Pratto 1B
  • Salvy C
  • Vinnie DH
  • Lopez UTIL
  • Camargo UTIL
  • Olivares UTIL
  • Dozier UTIL

That leaves Fermin, Garcia, Duffy, and Taylor in the minor leagues to start the season. However…as likely as that may be, I don’t think there’s any good guarantees for any of the non-MJ/BWJ/Vinnie/Salvy/Dozier crowd. Hence not being under the “locks” category.

Really quick, here’s my guess at what the Opening Day pitching staff looks like:

  • SP1: Singer
  • SP2: Greinke
  • SP3: Lynch
  • SP4: Lyles
  • SP5: Bubic
  • RP1: Barlow
  • RP2: Chapman
  • RP3: Coleman
  • RP4: Staumont
  • RP5: Clarke
  • RP6: Yarbrough
  • RP7: Keller
  • RP8: Garrett

That’s 13 pitchers and 13 hitters to break camp. I think Freddy Fermin winds up on the roster periodically because I really think MJ is about to transition to the outfield for the most part. The nice thing is that, especially early on in the season, they should be able to rock with Salvy back there most days and have MJ for emergencies. By June I’d expect Fermin to be with the big league team most of the time.

This will all surely change. Injuries are bound to happen. I feel strangely good about this, however, despite all the uncertainty I think exists heading into camp.


9 thoughts on “Opening Day Roster Thoughts/Predictions

  1. they will probably hold Garcia down at AAA for a month or so to screw him on service time. Then he will be up. It’s interesting all of their signings have been pitching. Makes me believe they have a lot more confidence in the young bats than the pitching at this point.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Where would he play? BWJ is the starting SS, Massey 2nd, and about 5 guys (Nicky, Eaton, Dozier, Duffy & Carmago) have 3rd covered. Dude is only 23. He could use a bit more polish on his hitting.


  2. Jimmy Govern is a personal friend. I rarely see his name mentioned although he played AAA last season. Any chance he’ll get some time in the majors?


  3. I am still holding out hope MJ can be a catcher; a load more value there if he can be adequate. I’m just about done seeing Bubic get his shots in the rotation. I’m hoping Kowar gets a legit shot. I also prefer Castillo, Zerpa, and Yarbs over Bubic.


  4. I like Nate Eaton at 3rd base & as emergency catcher. Dozier should be dealt to Colorado, Arizona, Boston or Baltimore. His warning track power at the K will florish at light air Stadiums in CO & AZ or small parks in Baltimore & Boston. Zerpa should be in Rotation as #5SP. My SP are 1.Singer 2.Lyles 3. Grienke 4. Lynch


  5. I’m sure hoping we aren’t done with the roster. Dozier needs to be traded or DFA’d. I’d like to see them trade Barlow, also.


    • I don’t think Dozier is tradable at this time.

      Bullpen trades are at peak value at the trade deadline. I would expect some of Barlow, Chapman, Staumont, and Garrett to be moved in late July.


  6. I see the position players much more locked in than the pitchers. The 13 spots for everyday guys will be as follows:
    Melendez – LF, C, DH
    Oliveras – LF, DH
    Isbel – CF
    Waters – RF
    Eaton – Reserve OF
    Perez – C
    Vinnie – 1B
    Massey – 2B
    Jr. – SS
    Dozier – 3B
    Duffy – 3B
    Lopez – SS/2B
    Last spot goes to Freddie Fermin (C) as Pratto, Taylor, Hernandez, and Garcia all start in the minor leagues. I think Taylor and Pratto see a lot of time in this spot also throughout the year. Hernandez stays in AA most of the year and Garcia plays SS in AAA unless an injury happens in KC.


  7. Now the pitching depth is better than I can remember it ever being. The problem is it is hard to look at the staff and point to 5 pitchers and say those guys are premium pitchers. We need to strengthen the top of the staff but the depth is great.

    Just look at these potential starting rotations if injuries do not occur:
    Kansas City
    SP1 Singer
    SP2 Greinke
    SP3 Lyles
    SP4 Lynch
    SP5 Keller

    SP1 Jackson Kowar
    SP2 Kris Bubic
    SP3 Max Castillo
    SP4 Angel Zerpa
    SP5 Alec Marsh

    NW Arkansas
    SP1 Jonathan Bowlan
    SP2 Beck Way
    SP3 Asa Lacy
    SP4 Andrew Hoffman
    SP5 TJ Sikkema

    I would expect several others to get starts in Omaha and NWA like Drew Parrish, Austin Cox, Noah Cameron, Chandler Champlain, Charlie Neuweiler, Noah Murdock, and Rylan Kaufman.

    So now for the 8 man bullpen:
    CL1 Scott Barlow
    CL2 Aroldis Chapman
    RHR Dylan Coleman
    RHR Taylor Clark
    RHR Josh Staumont
    LHR Ryan Yarbough
    LHR Amir Garrett
    LHR Richard Lovelady (out of options gets him the last spot on the staff)

    I think Josh Taylor and Jon Heasley push for a spot somewhere in the pen or the rotation. I believe with a better pitch mix, Heasley’s success will go up quite a bit and Taylor has already had ML success but needs to be 100% healthy. I can also see Jose Cuas, Carlos Hernandez, Brooks Kriske, and Nick Wittgren pitching out of the pen at some point.


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