Royals' bullpen doesn't have shortage of arms

Royals' bullpen doesn't have shortage of arms

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- A Royals coach walked through the clubhouse early Tuesday morning, turned to a reporter and said with a laugh, "I better go look at some name tags. I have never met half of these guys."

There are plenty of new faces in 2017, mostly pitchers who will be vying for a precious few bullpen spots.

With the addition of left-hander Travis Wood (the club has not officially announced his two-year deal), it would appear the competition for the fifth spot in the rotation will be among Wood, and right-handers Nathan Karns and Chris Young.

The two who lose that competition will head to a very crowded bullpen.

Manager Ned Yost indicated as well that left-handers Matt Strahm and Mike Minor -- once thought of as rotation candidates -- also will be bullpen arms.

"We feel we're better off with Strahm and Minor in the bullpen," Yost said. "Do we feel Strahm is still a starter in the long term? Absolutely."

Soria ready to start anew in Royals' bullpen

Strahm (1.23 ERA in 21 games in 2016) likely will join right-handers Joakim Soria and closer Kelvin Herrera in the back of the bullpen.

Add two long relievers among Young, Wood, or Karns, and five spots already appear taken. That leaves a long list of candidates fighting for one or two spots.

The list includes left-hander Jonathan Sanchez, and right-handers Josh Staumont, Kyle Zimmer, Al Alburquerque, Brandon League, Bobby Parnell, Chris Withrow and Seth Maness, to name a few.

"It'll all sort itself out over the next six or seven weeks," Yost said. "It always does. And the great thing about Spring Training is that there is always one or two surprises that could come out of that list. That's why we're down here."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.