Despite signing Bruce Chen to a new two-year deal, the Royals have been looking for another left-handed pitcher for the bullpen to supplement Tim Collins. The search has led them to two potential targets, who, if the rumors are true, may be on the radar.
George Sherrill, former closer for Baltimore, has a career 3.68 ERA in 323 innings. Over that span, he’s produced rates of 8.9 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9. He’s generally been good at avoiding home runs and doesn’t give up a lot of hits, but his 2010 was disappointing and saw his walkrate climb while his strikeout rate diminished. In 2011, he pitched 36 innings with Atlanta as a 36-year-old and rebounded, striking out 9.5 per nine innings and walking just three per nine innings.
He has the expected advantage against left-handed batters, something that Collins never demonstrated last year, as lefties actually performed a little bit better against him than right-handed batters. In the minors, he never showed a consistent advantage against lefties, either.
Wada, who turns 31 in February, has started almost exclusively in Japan, compiling 1126.1 innings from 2005 to 2011. He’s shown good control and struck out batters at a high rate, but his stuff rates as pretty average. His fastball hangs around 87-88 mph but he’s said to have a good circle change and his slider has some bite to it, as evidenced by the clip below.
It’s difficult to translate performance in Japan to the big leagues, and the Royals failed in their attempt with Yasuhiko Yabuta, who had a 7.14 ERA in parts of two seasons in Kansas City. Wada might be a #4 or #5 type starter and had a bout with elbow inflammation in 2009. He’s probably not worth the risk, especially if the Royals can land Sherrill. Wada is Bruce Chen with no track record in the majors.
Another option is Joe Saunders. A former first-round pick, Saunders will be non-tendered tonight by the Diamondbacks. He has a 4.16 ERA over 986.2 major league innings. Arizona is going to try to re-sign him, though.