Seemingly since the signing of Jason Vargas, it had been expected that the Royals would sign a reclamation project to fill out their rotation. Johan Santana and Jason Hammel were linked to the Royals, at it seemed like a matter of time before another starter was added to compete to be the fifth starter. Now, the waiting has come to an end, as the Royals have finally signed that reclamation project. That pitcher is none other than…..Brad Penny?
Source: #Royals agree to deal with RHP Brad Penny.
— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) January 15, 2014
If you had thought that Penny had disappeared or retired, you were not that far off. After struggling through two difficult seasons in 2011 and 2012, Penny took last year off to rest what he said was a tired shoulder. Over those last two seasons, Penny put together an 11-12 record with a 5.41 ERA, striking out only 84 batters in 209.2 innings of work as a starter and a reliever. As expected with those numbers, Penny had difficulty keeping runners off base, with a 1.598 WHiP during that span.
Why should there even be the slightest bit of hope that Brad Penny, at age 35, could be of any use to the Royals? Well, according to reports, Penny has been impressive during his workouts over the winter. To counteract his shoulder getting tired, Penny has been attempting to build strength through weightlifting, and the early returns do appear to be positive.
Signed to a minor league contract, there is no risk in signing Penny. If he can perform during Spring Training and prove that he can actually be a viable major league pitcher again, great. Should the Royals want him to start the season in Omaha to prove that he has something left in the tank, then they can go that route as well. And if he still looks like the pitcher he was from 2011 and 2012, the Royals can let him go without any major loss.
Now we know who the Royals reclamation project is going to be. Brad Penny may not be Johan Santana or even Jason Hammel, but he is the lottery ticket they are going to try to cash.