Hunter Dozier’s best year came when he played third. Here’s the Royals’ plan for 2023

Charlie Riedel/AP

For the Royals, third base will belong to Hunter Dozier.

General manager J.J. Picollo said Saturday the Royals want to solidify a position that saw five play at least 15 games there.

“We want Hunter Dozier to get at-bats,” Picollo said. “That’s the best place for him to play every day.”

Last season, Emmanuel Rivera played 57 games at third. Bobby Witt Jr., started the season there and played 56 games. Nicky Lopez played 30, Dozier 27 and Nate Eaton 15 at the hot corner.

Dozier, who made his major league debut in 2016, played 100 games at third base in 2019 and 222 of his career 565 games there.

He’s also logged more than 140 games at first base and right field.

Dozier had the best offensive season of his career in 2019 with 26 home runs, 84 RBIs, a .279 batting average and .870 OPS, all career bests.

“Looking back, he started changing positions quite a bit,” Picollo said. “You do have to wonder from our perspective, how did it affect his offense? Maybe this will settle him a bit.”

In other lineup news, Picollo said Nicky Lopez and Michael Massey will spend time at second base, and Witt will stay at shortstop.

“We want to see him settle in at shortstop,” Picollo said. “We never had any doubt he would be able to play shortstop in the big leagues. Last year, he was playing second, third and short — and we don’t think that was beneficial for him.

“We saw an uptick in his defense over the last six weeks when we kept him at short.”

Picollo expects Salvador Perez to play at least 100 games at catcher but perhaps see more time at designated hitter. In 2021, when Perez led the American League with 48 home runs, he played a career-high 40 games at DH.

Perez matched that number last year when he missed about six weeks with a thumb injury.

“It’s hard to keep him out of the lineup because he wants to catch every day,” Picollo said. “But I think what he experienced two years ago, hitting the 48 homers, it helps him to DH. It helps his body to DH.”