For much of the offseason, there have been rumors that the Royals are willing to trade pieces from their bullpen. The names most frequently mentioned have been Aaron Crow and Tim Collins, two relievers who are eligible for arbitration for the first time, and could begin getting a bit more costly than what the Royals would likely be willing to spend. With potential replacements coming up through the minors and the potential to get pieces needed to improve the 2014 squad, it seemed as though both pitchers were likely to depart Kansas city.
However, the trade of Will Smith for Norichika Aoki, that leaves Collins as the only lefty to make more than eight appearances in relief last season. Aside from Collins, the Royals have several players that were September callups last season, but are any of them ready to take on a bigger role as a primary lefty arm out of the bullpen for a team with goals of contending in 2014? Francisley Bueno has been solid for the Royals in his chances in the past two seasons, posting a 1.05 ERA in 25 games, but at 32 years old, may be considered just a AAA arm. Donnie Joseph and Chris Dwyer are likely to have a lot more upside than Bueno, and displayed a tantalizing ability to miss bats last season, but may not be ready. And we all know what Everett Teaford is by now, a thoroughly unexciting middle reliever that is essentially a minor league arm with the solid Royals bullpen.
While Tim Collins is hardly a grizzled veteran reliever himself, he has spent the past three seasons as the primary lefty in the Royals bullpen. At just 24 years old, Collins still has the potential to improve upon what have already been solid major league numbers. He already strikes out over a batter per inning, and if he can improve his control, could be even more devastating in the bullpen in 2014.
Collins is also not expected to cost much, with an anticipated $1 Million salary after arbitration next season. With the Royals seemingly willing to spend money in their quest to end their playoff drought, and the potential to part ways with Wade Davis, $1 Million is not exactly breaking the bank. Making that kind of investment on a left handed reliever capable of striking out a batter an inning may be a sound investment.
Tim Collins may have struggled at times last season, but he is still a young pitcher. If he is able to get back to the form he displayed in 2012, Collins could end up as a bargain at his expected price tag. With the trade of Will Smith, it seems more likely that the Royals will have Collins in 2014.