Ball Star

Andy McCullough blogs about the Royals and baseball

Royals debate replacements for Eric Hosmer on big-league roster

08/04/2014 9:38 AM

08/04/2014 10:59 AM

The Royals may add a hitter to their roster before Tuesday’s game against the Diamondbacks. Their bench is barren, reduced to three men a day during this most recent series against Oakland. Manager Ned Yost will have four players at his disposal this weekend in Arizona — but only because the team will play under National League rules, without the designated hitter.

The team also may choose not to add a hitter. Yost does not want to make a move to trim his eight-man bullpen, which features one more reliever than is customary. None of the obvious choices in the group possess minor-league options, so the player may be lost on waivers, and a veteran like Scott Downs would be unlikely to accept an assignment to the minors.

So … Yeah.

The sensible solution would be to add a hitter and jettison a member of the bullpen. But Yost hinted that he may delay the decision until the optimal candidate emerges. That may be via the waiver wire. Yost, at least, wants a veteran, right-handed hitter who can pinch hit in late-game situations for Raul Ibanez against left-handed pitchers.

If the team opts for an internal addition, here are the candidates:

1. Francisco Pena: He has likely done the most to merit a call up. Pena has boomed 23 home runs this season. He has impressed team officials with his work behind the plate. He is also a right-handed hitter. But Yost admitted he was unsure how Pena would handle mostly coming off the bench.

2. Justin Maxwell: Yost seemed less thrilled about the prospect of bringing up Maxwell, likely in deference to his miserable output during two stints in the majors this season. Maxwell is a right-handed hitter with power, but he showed no signs of it with Kansas City this season.

3. Carlos Peguero: He hit two more home runs on Sunday night, which gives him 18 on the season. He also is a left-handed hitter, with little track record in more than 200 at-bats in the majors (.622 OPS).

4. Johnny Giavotella: Looks unlikely, as the team does not need a middle infielder, and Giavotella has basically stopped hitting. He posted a .902 OPS for Omaha in April. Since then? He’s slashing .255/.326/.352 through the next 81 games, heading into Sunday night.

5. Matt Fields: It would be a wonderful story. A washout from the Rays organization, he spent parts of 2011 and 2012 in the nonaffiliated Frontier League. He smashed his 22nd homer of the season on Sunday. He is also 29, and carries around the dreaded label of “org guy,” the sort who isn’t viewed with a big-league future.

6. Whit Merrifield: He has hit plenty in Omaha (.896 OPS), but shown little power. Merrifield has two home runs 205 at-bats. Not the sort of power hitter Yost appears to be seeking.

FROM THE STAR

James Shields silenced O.co Coliseum, and the Royals departed Oakland with their fourth consecutive series victory.

THE ROYALS’ PLAYOFF PERCENTAGE (ACCORDING TO FANGRAPHS)

16.7 percent.

HERE IS SOME ROCK MUSIC

“I’m Bill Paxton” by You Blew It!

To reach Andy McCullough, call 816-234-4370 or send email to rmccullough@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @McCulloughStar.

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