The Royals could be down one late-inning weapon on the bench after the offseason trade of outfielder Jarrod Dyson to the Seattle Mariners. But in the opening days of camp, manager Ned Yost appeared unconcerned by the possibility of not having a premium base stealer at his disposal in close games.
“I think our team was built a little bit differently in years past,” Yost said. “We were a speed and defense team, less power, probably less run production. I think our run production is going to be higher.”
The Royals’ roster could have room for a fifth outfielder with base-stealing ability, a role that could suit Billy Burns or Terrance Gore, who began last season on the 25-man roster while Dyson was on the disabled list. Yost also named utility man Whit Merrifield as one of the club’s best runners and base stealers — though Merrifield could find himself in the lineup at second base on a regular basis. But unlike recent years, the Royals may not view late-game speed as a necessity.
For years, Dyson loomed as a substantial weapon in close games, poised to emerge from the dugout and steal bases seemingly at will. In parts of two postseasons, Gore offered the same skill.
Gore, 25, doesn’t offer the hitting ability or defense to replicate Dyson’s total value. But his speed presents a close facsimile and it’s possible he could be used as a part-time player for stretches this season. But for now, Yost said the Royals would wait to evaluate needs.
“We’re still going to be very athletic in the field for the most part,” Yost said. “But I think we’re going to have the ability to score more runs through slugging percentage. We might not need that guy as much as we did before. But again, you see the makeup of your team, and at the end of the spring, if it’s an area that pops up as a need, we’ll make an adjustment.”