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Market Fresh: Bruce Chen

Bruce is the Boss. (from mindahaas.net)

I’ve looked at a few options for the Royals fifth starter so far this month, but I’ve yet to discuss one that we already know to be an option.

He’s an option because, well, he’s been an option in each of the last two seasons for the Royals.

So while perhaps Jeff Francis or Freddy Garcia may be viable options to take the hill once or twice a week, they’ve had their share of injuries and that makes it difficult to trust them for a full season, especially when the 2011 season is one in which the Royals really need to soak up some innings.

What else does he bring to the table?

Chen has been a minor league free agent signing by the Royals prior to both the 2009 and 2010 seasons.  After a solid (if unspectacular) 2010 where Chen led the Royals pitchers in victories (12), he’s due for a major league deal.  And frankly, he’s earned it.

Year Tm W L ERA G GS IP ERA+ WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
1998 ATL 2 0 3.98 4 4 20.1 106 1.574 10.2 1.3 4.0 7.5 1.89
1999 ATL 2 2 5.47 16 7 51.0 82 1.275 6.7 1.9 4.8 7.9 1.67
2000 TOT 7 4 3.29 37 15 134.0 142 1.209 7.8 1.2 3.1 7.5 2.43
2000 ATL 4 0 2.50 22 0 39.2 185 1.361 7.9 0.9 4.3 7.3 1.68
2000 PHI 3 4 3.63 15 15 94.1 130 1.145 7.7 1.3 2.6 7.6 2.96
2001 TOT 7 7 4.87 27 27 146.0 87 1.404 9.0 1.8 3.6 7.8 2.14
2001 PHI 4 5 5.00 16 16 86.1 86 1.402 9.4 2.0 3.2 8.2 2.55
2001 NYM 3 2 4.68 11 11 59.2 90 1.408 8.4 1.5 4.2 7.1 1.68
2002 TOT 2 5 5.56 55 6 77.2 78 1.648 9.8 1.9 5.0 9.3 1.86
2002 NYM 0 0 0.00 1 0 0.2 1.500 13.5 0.0 0.0 0.0
2002 MON 2 3 6.99 15 5 37.1 61 1.875 11.3 2.2 5.5 10.4 1.87
2002 CIN 0 2 4.31 39 1 39.2 101 1.437 8.4 1.6 4.5 8.4 1.85
2003 TOT 0 1 5.55 16 2 24.1 84 1.479 9.6 2.2 3.7 7.4 2.00
2003 HOU 0 0 6.00 11 0 12.0 75 1.833 10.5 1.5 6.0 6.0 1.00
2003 BOS 0 1 5.11 5 2 12.1 94 1.135 8.8 2.9 1.5 8.8 6.00
2004 BAL 2 1 3.02 8 7 47.2 153 1.154 7.4 1.3 3.0 6.0 2.00
2005 BAL 13 10 3.83 34 32 197.1 113 1.267 8.5 1.5 2.9 6.1 2.11
2006 BAL 0 7 6.93 40 12 98.2 66 1.743 12.5 2.6 3.2 6.4 2.00
2007 TEX 0 0 7.20 5 0 10.0 65 1.700 9.9 2.7 5.4 6.3 1.17
2009 KCR 1 6 5.78 17 9 62.1 77 1.588 10.7 1.7 3.6 6.5 1.80
2010 KCR 12 7 4.17 33 23 140.1 101 1.375 8.7 1.1 3.7 6.3 1.72
12 Seasons 48 50 4.64 292 144 1009.2 95 1.400 9.1 1.6 3.5 7.0 1.98
162 Game Avg. 7 8 4.64 46 22 157 95 1.400 9.1 1.6 3.5 7.0 1.98
W L ERA G GS IP ERA+ WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
ATL (3 yrs) 8 2 4.14 42 11 111.0 109 1.360 7.8 1.5 4.5 7.6 1.71
BAL (3 yrs) 15 18 4.61 82 51 343.2 96 1.388 9.5 1.8 3.0 6.2 2.06
KCR (2 yrs) 13 13 4.66 50 32 202.2 92 1.441 9.3 1.3 3.6 6.4 1.74
NYM (2 yrs) 3 2 4.62 12 11 60.1 92 1.409 8.5 1.5 4.2 7.0 1.68
PHI (2 yrs) 7 9 4.28 31 31 180.2 105 1.268 8.5 1.6 2.9 7.9 2.74
BOS (1 yr) 0 1 5.11 5 2 12.1 94 1.135 8.8 2.9 1.5 8.8 6.00
TEX (1 yr) 0 0 7.20 5 0 10.0 65 1.700 9.9 2.7 5.4 6.3 1.17
MON (1 yr) 2 3 6.99 15 5 37.1 61 1.875 11.3 2.2 5.5 10.4 1.87
CIN (1 yr) 0 2 4.31 39 1 39.2 101 1.437 8.4 1.6 4.5 8.4 1.85
HOU (1 yr) 0 0 6.00 11 0 12.0 75 1.833 10.5 1.5 6.0 6.0 1.00
NL (6 yrs) 20 18 4.57 150 59 441.0 97 1.392 8.6 1.6 3.9 7.9 2.02
AL (7 yrs) 28 32 4.68 142 85 568.2 94 1.407 9.4 1.6 3.2 6.3 1.95
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/12/2011.

Chen has bounced all over the map in his baseball journey.  He’s primarily been used as the typical lefty swingman, making spot starts when injuries or scheduling dictates, and often stepping in for a long-term starting role, as he did in 2010.  As a Royal, he has performed right in line with his career numbers.

He’s not very flashy, and he’s a touch below average based on ERA+, but he’s generally a decent option.

There were times in relief that Chen struggled with command and control, but as a starter, he evened things out and was an above average pitcher when it was all said and done.

Chen’s performance, durability, flexibility and left-handedness deserve a major league contract – but he’s been looking for an opportunity to pick up a two year deal.  For a decent, though not irreplaceable player, that’s not a horrible demand, but it’s not one that a team is likely going to cave into (not even the Royals).  I’d suggest that Chen is probably the favorite out of all the other options on the market, largely due to familiarity, both his with the Royals and theirs with him.

Also he’s a former Brave, but anyway…

One million dollars for 2011 and incentives to bump it up to two?  Add a mutual option for 2012 maybe?  What the heck, I say it’s a good idea.  C’mon Chen!

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Topics: AL Central, Baseball, Bruce Chen, Kansas City Royals, KC, MLB, Royals

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  • Tom Barkwell

    Bruce should definitely be re-signed to a two year deal. He’s turned himself into a Jamie Moyer style of pitcher, deceptively changing arm angles, changing speeds, locations, etc. He was consistently solid all season, rarely giving up the big inning (are you paying attention, Davies?) that prompts all the morale-killing head-hanging body language we see far too often from the Royals.

    He’s also pretty funny, and a good sense of humor will probably come in handy around Kauffman this year.

  • Lana D.

    Really? Injury free for the past five years?? I guess we are not counting missing all of 2008?? Don’t waste another thought or keystroke on this ultra-soft never was

    • http://kingsofkauffman.com Michael Engel

      Dunno how I missed that, but you’re right. That’s a massive oversight – maybe I had it in my head that he was in the minors all year? Either way…yeah let’s not count that year huh…