The 2020 MLB season is now a 60-game dash, starting on July 23 and ending, hopefully, with a full-size postseason in October. Between now and the start of the season, we’ll be giving quick capsule previews of each team, reminding you of where things stood back in Spring Training and where they stand now as we embark on what is sure to be the strangest season in baseball history. Next up: The Kansas City Royals roster and schedule:
ROYALS ROSTER (projected)
When the season opens on July 23-24, teams can sport rosters of up to 30 players, with a minimum of 25. Two weeks later, rosters must be reduced to 28 and then, two weeks after that, they must be reduced to 26. Teams will be permitted to add a 27th player for doubleheaders.
In light of that, there is a great degree of latitude for which specific players will break summer camp. For now, though, here are who we expect to be on the Royals roster to begin the season, give or take:
The Royals roster is harder to project than a lot of teams for a couple of reasons. Primarily because they have had at least six players test positive for COVID-19 since the resumption of spring training, requiring constant shifting of the depth chart. Some have come back and are ramping back up. Others are out. It’s a pretty fluid situation. Another reason for the roster’s flux: there are a number of young players, some of whom are Rule 5 selections from other teams or who are out of minor league options. The Royals don’t figure to be competitive in 2020 and they are probably viewing the season as a means of auditioning future talent. That would mean not waiving guys unless and until they’ve had a chance to prove themselves. That would also mean, eventually, a great deal of shuffling, particularly in the bullpen.
As for the non-fluxing portion of the roster, Maikel Franco is new in the fold and the venerable Alex Gordon is back for one more go-around. Between them, All-Star Whit Merrifield and last year’s breakout from Hunter Dozier, there is something approaching a decent offensive core, even if it’s not one strong enough to compete with Minnesota or Cleveland and even if it’s not full of high-ceiling guys like the White Sox have. Salvador Perez, who missed 2019 with Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, will return as the primary catcher. Whether he still has any production left is an open question, but between him and Gordon, there is at least some veteran leadership around.
As for the rotation, Keller, Duffy, and Montgomery were all average or better last year. Again, respectable. Potentially solid. Not spectacular. Prospect Brady Singer still needs some seasoning, but he could very well be joining the rotation during the course of the year. In the pen, Kennedy enjoyed a successful transition to the closer role, though new manager Mike Matheny — who claims to be a totally different guy than he was in St. Louis and who now allegedly subscribes to advanced analytics and all that entails — may shake up everything with the relief corps. Matchups, openers, you name it. I’ll believe that Matheny has changed when I see him in action, but there is at least some reason to believe that, in addition to a lot of arms cycling through the pitching staff this year, usage will be unpredictable as well.
The Royals rebuild has not been an audacious one, but they have had a plan, it seems. Most of the guys who will be a part of the next winning Royals team are still in the minors — particularly some pitchers who are a year or so away — but unlike a lot of recently rebuilding clubs, the Royals are still managing to put a major league quality club on the field. That’s not nothing.
Every team will play 60 games. Teams will be playing 40 games against their own division rivals and 20 interleague games against the corresponding geographic division from the other league. Six of the 20 interleague games will be “rivalry” games.
Royals home stands will be July 31-August 2 (White Sox), August 5-9 (Cubs, Twins), August 18-23 (Reds, Twins), August 31-September 6 (Indians, White Sox), September 11-13 (Pirates), September 21-27 (Cardinals, Tigers).