I received a request from frequent commenter UncleJesse40 to write up an article on the remaining free agents that could be worth signing by the Kansas City Royals. One player he specifically mentioned is Jair Jurrjens, a pitcher who was an All-Star as recently as 2011. So, let’s take a look at Jurrgens now, with a look at the remaining free agents coming later today.
Through the 2011 season, Jurrgens appeared as though he may have been emerging as a solid second or third starter. Only 26 heading into 2012, he had already produced a 50-33 record with a 3.40 ERA. While Jurrjens was not much of a strikeout pitcher, only striking out 6.2 batters per nine innings over his first 115 games, he still looked the part of a nice option in the rotation.
There were warning signs however. In 2011, even though Jair Jurrjens posted a 13-6 record with a 2.96 ERA, his strikeout rate dropped from 6.7 per nine to 5.3 per nine. A part of that could be attributed to his declining velocity. His fastball dropped from an average of 91.30 MPH in 2010 to 89.13 MPH in 2011. Jurrjens battled injuries in 2010 and 2011, being shut down during the final month of the 2011 season after posting a 1-3 record with a 5.88 ERA after the All-Star Break.
Those injury woes continued in 2012, as Jurrjens struggled to a 3-4 record with a 6.89 ERA. He was sent down to AAA in an attempt to get back to his previous form, but struggled there as well, posting a 4-6 record with a 4.98 ERA. He spent most of 2013 back in AAA, this time with the Detroit Tigers and Baltimore Orioles, producing a combined 7-10 record and a 4.57 ERA.
After having yet another surgery in the offseason, this time on his knee, Jair Jurrjens is thought to be healthy for the first time in years. Based on his lack of success since the 2011 season, Jurrjens is likely going to have to accept a minor league contract from any teams that are interested.
So, why not bring him in? Dayton Moore has already brought in a plethora of older pitchers on minor league contracts, so why not see if a 28 year old Jurrjens has anything left? He would have a lot more upside than Brett Tomko or Brad Penny, and may actually be able to produce something of value. With a minor league contract, Jurrjens could be a useful lottery ticket, as opposed to hoping that some pitcher who has spent the last season out of baseball can provide value.
Jair Jurrjens has not been a viable major league pitcher in almost two and a half year. However, if he is healthy, he may be worth the Royals giving him a chance.