Royals roster and schedule
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Kansas City Royals roster and schedule for 2020 season

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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:

Catchers

Salvador Perez
Meibrys Viloria

Infielders:

Ryan O'Hearn
Ryan McBroom
Nickey Lopez
Adalberto Mondesi
Maikel Franco
Erick Mejia

Outfielders

Whit Merrifield
Hunter Dozier
Alex Gordon
Jorge Soler
Bubba Starling
Brett Phillips
Nick Heath
Franchy Cordero

Starters

Danny Duffy
Jakob Junis
Mike Montgomery
Brad Keller
Brady Singer

Relievers

Ian Kennedy
Scott Barlow
Greg Holland
Josh Staumont
Glenn Sparkman
Trevor Rosenthal
Randy Rosario
Jorge López
Jesse Hahn
Stephen Woods Jr.


BREAKDOWN:

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.

ROYALS SCHEDULE:

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).

The entire Royals roster and schedule can be seen here.

Angels’ Andrelton Simmons opts out of final 5 games

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shortstop Andrelton Simmons has opted out of the remainder of the Los Angeles Angels’ season.

The Angels announced the four-time Gold Glove-winning shortstop’s decision Tuesday before they faced the San Diego Padres.

Los Angeles (24-31) is still technically in the playoff race with five games left in the regular season, and Simmons clearly caught the Angels by surprise, although the club said it respected his decision.

The 31-year-old Simmons, who can be a free agent this winter, is finishing his fifth year with the Angels. After spraining his ankle in late July and missing 22 games, Simmons is currently batting .297 with 10 RBIs while playing his usual stellar defense, albeit with four errors in 30 games.

“At this time, I feel this is the best decision for me and my family,” Simmons said in a statement. “We don’t know what the future holds, but we would like to sincerely thank the Angels organization and Angels fans for welcoming and making us feel at home.”

Manager Joe Maddon acknowledged he was caught by surprise when general manager Billy Eppler told him about Simmons’ decision Monday night after Simmons went 1 for 4 with an RBI single in the Angels’ home finale. Maddon texted Simmons, but hadn’t heard back by Tuesday afternoon.

“I’ve really enjoyed this guy a lot,” Maddon said. “I’m a big fan. This guy is a good baseball player, and I’ve enjoyed the conversations, too. It’s just unfortunate. He’s really a big part of what we’re doing right now.”

Simmons is a favorite of Angels fans for his defensive wizardry, and owner Arte Moreno has described Simmons as perhaps his favorite player to watch on the roster. Simmons has batted .281 with 36 homers and 281 RBIs during his five seasons with Los Angeles, and he won the Gold Glove in 2017 and 2018.

“He’s a thinking kind of a player, and I’ve enjoyed him a lot,” Maddon said.

Simmons will be a free agent this winter, and the Angels have an obvious replacement for him in David Fletcher, who has a .374 on-base percentage while regularly hitting leadoff for the Angels during his breakout major league season. Fletcher has been playing second base since Simmons’ return from injury.

But the Angels haven’t publicly closed the door on Simmons’ return, and he could be given a qualifying offer. Maddon has repeatedly said he would like Simmons to return in 2021 if possible.

The Angels haven’t had a winning season during Simmons’ five years in Anaheim, although Simmons said last week he wasn’t discouraged by the lack of team success. Simmons played his first four major league seasons in Atlanta, and he hasn’t appeared in the postseason since 2013.

Simmons also said he hadn’t been involved in any recent contract talks with the Angels, but he had enjoyed playing for the club. When asked if he wanted to return to the Halos, Simmons said he would have to “plead the fifth.”