Royals’ manager Ned Yost is shaking things up in 2017, starting with left fielder Alex Gordon. Yost told MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that “every scenario is open,” and expects to utilize Gordon in right and center field this spring while he figures out where to position Jorge Soler and Brandon Moss.
Gordon, 33, hasn’t manned right field since a three-game experiment with the Royals back in 2010 and has yet to play center field during any regular season to date. The focus, however, isn’t on Gordon’s capabilities. Among the three outfielders, he carries the best defensive profile and appears to be the most versatile of the bunch.
According to Flanagan, Soler and Moss are average on defense and will continue working closely with Royals’ coach Rusty Kuntz as the season approaches. One arrangement could see Gordon in center field, flanked by Soler in right field and Moss in left, though Yost foresees Soler taking some reps at DH if his defensive chops aren’t up to snuff.
While Moss is prepared to see starts at either outfield corner, Yost appears to be set on keeping Soler in right field, at least for the time being. The club is hoping for a bounce-back season from the 24-year-old outfielder, who was acquired from the Cubs in December after batting a lackluster .238/.333/.436 and sustaining a slew of minor injuries throughout the 2016 season.
In a column for CSN Philly on Sunday, Jim Salisbury mentions that the Mets are seeking two prospects for outfielder Jay Bruce. “Prospects,” in this case, seems to be a nebulous term. Salisbury adds that the Phillies have had “longstanding interest” in Bruce, but the team prefers to hold onto its prospects. As a result, free agents Brandon Moss or Michael Saunders are better fits for the Phillies, per Salisbury.
Bruce, 29, is under contract for the 2017 season at $13 million before becoming eligible for free agency. The Mets, with a crowded outfield, have made it no secret throughout the offseason that Bruce is available via trade.
Bruce, however, is coming off of a lackluster second half of the 2016 season. He hit quite well in 97 games with the Reds, batting .265/.316/.559 with 25 home runs and 80 RBI in 402 plate appearances, earning him an All-Star nomination. After joining the Mets, though, Bruce hit a paltry .219/.294/.391 with eight home runs and 19 RBI in 187 PA.
The Mets’ relative lack of leverage and a still-crowded free agent outfield market will likely hurt the club’s ability to get what it wants for Bruce. As a result, the Mets may carry Bruce into spring training and try to trade him near the start of the regular season. If that doesn’t work, Bruce may have to accept being a part-time player until the summer.
The Orioles netted a serviceable outfielder and potential leadoff hitter in Seth Smith during Friday’s trade with the Mariners, but comments from Baltimore GM Dan Duquette suggest that the club’s search for outfield depth isn’t quite over. The latest name to pop up on their radar could be that of free agent Brandon Moss, per a report from MLB Network’s Jon Morosi.
Moss, 33, finished a two-year stint with the Cardinals in 2016, slashing .225/.300/.484 with 28 home runs during his last season in St. Louis. While the veteran hitter suffered an untimely slump during the second half of the year, bottoming out with a .191 average to finish the season, his overall value rose from 0.5 fWAR in 2015 to 1.4 in 2016.
Like Smith, Moss could give the Orioles another left-handed hitter to try in the leadoff spot, as well as another platoon option in the outfield corner. His power potential has already drawn some interest from the Phillies this winter, who have reportedly been in talks with him since late December.