Cuthbert in crowded mix for second-base job

Cuthbert in crowded mix for second-base job

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The prevailing offseason assumption was the Royals' second-base job was up for grabs among Whit Merrifield, Christian Colon and Raul Mondesi.

But manager Ned Yost isn't about to leave another name out.

"You might as well throw Cheslor Cuthbert in there as well," Yost said. "He's worked very hard at that position."

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The Royals are trying to rationalize a roster spot for Cuthbert, who filled in for an injured Mike Moustakas last season at third base and hit .274 with 12 home runs and 46 RBIs in 128 games. But Moustakas is healthy and will reclaim his job at third.

Merrifield on second-base job

And that leaves Cuthbert without a spot, particularly since the Royals also acquired Brandon Moss in the offseason to serve primarily as the DH.

Further complicating matters is that Cuthbert is out of options. Thus, the Royals are hoping Cuthbert can increase his versatility, which would justify him taking the 25th spot on the roster.

Cuthbert has worked at second base off and on over the past few years. But he did so more intensely this offseason.

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"The minute the season ended last year, I came down here for instructional league," Cuthbert said. "I worked for about 10 days to two weeks just at second base."

Cuthbert, 24, also arrived in camp early to continue that work at second base.

"He's athletic and has good hands," Yost said. "He can do this."

Cuthbert also believes he could transition into a second baseman.

"It's different," Cuthbert said. "The angles are different. The throws are different. But I can do it. It just takes more work."

If there is an area of the job that Cuthbert can improve upon, it's his range. Unlike at third base, playing second base requires covering much more real estate.

"At third, it's just mostly reaction," Cuthbert said. "At second, you have to move around more."

Cuthbert will have the next six weeks to impress Yost and the coaching staff.

"We're looking for someone who can field ground balls and turn double plays, and get hits," Yost said, smiling. "That's it. That's what we want."

Contract stuff
The Royals agreed to terms with several pre-arbitration players on Thursday: Scott Alexander, Brian Flynn, Jake Junis, Kevin McCarthy, Kyle Zimmer, Cuthbert, Hunter Dozier, Merrifield, Ramon Torres, Billy Burns, Terrance Gore and Bubba Starling.

Eleven players remain unsigned: Miguel Almonte, Andrew Edwards, Nathan Karns, Matt Strahm, Cam Gallagher, Colon, Mondesi, Jorge Bonifacio, Samir Duenez, Peter O'Brien and Paulo Orlando.

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.