If the Royals were a football team, they would be in a pretty good spot right now. They have a solid “two-deep” that features depth and competition at nearly every position.
Too bad the Royals don’t play football.
Considering they are gearing up for baseball season, the Royals have a mess on their hands when it comes to infield depth.
They made the inexplicable decision to bring back Yuniesky Betancourt as their “utility infielder” completing a spiral of confusing moves in which they discarded first Mike Aviles, then Yamaico Navarro .
Much as everyone seems to hate Betancourt, you could make an argument that he’s not a terrible shortstop. But the Royals tried to convince us that he could play second and third too.
If that’s so, then the Royals should be planning to send either Johnny Giavotella or Chris Getz back to the minors, right? But you certainly don’t hear that about the position battle at second. At least to this point, it looks like the Royals plan to carry both second basemen.
If that happens, it eats a roster spot. And that shifts the spotlight to third base, where one would assume the Royals would like a safety valve for Mike Moustakas. Will that be Betancourt, who’s never played a game at third in the big leagues? Or will the Royals try to figure out a way to keep Kevin Kouzmanoff, a veteran third baseman who was once highly thought of.
Keeping a second-stringer at either second or third will most likely deny the Royals a fifth outfielder. They will have to break camp with Mitch Maier because of his versatility, instead of Jarrod Dyson. Dyson was a silver bullet in manager Ned Yost’s holster early last season, and certainly Yost would like the luxury of having a run-scoring machine on the bench.
The Royals’ two-deep quandary seems to lack any effective solution. If one of the participants in the mix should falter during the spring, or if one should get injured, then the Royals will look smart for having given themselves options. But if the problem doesn’t solve itself, then they will be stuck making a decision that didn’t need to be made.
A legitimate option at the utility player position would have made the mess avoidable.