March 27, 2013; Sarasota, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Jair Jurrjens (48) throws a pitch during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Jair Jurrjens Could Be Worth a Look for the Royals

June 22, 2012; Boston, MA, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Jair Jurrjens (49) pitches during the first inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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  • jimfetterolf

    Tomko and Penny were mentor guys, kind of semi-coaches, so their age and experience was their selling point. Jair is a Boras client, if that means anything. Really no recent news on him, MLBTR has nothing on him in the last year.

    • moretrouble

      You could be right — a mentor at the AAA level. The young guys in the MLB roster have Eiland, Shields, Chen, etc. Not sure KC has room on their roster for semi-coaches. But, again, if those guys are willing to play at AAA for low dough, be a positive force in the dugout and wait around for a call from the big club that may never come, then you could be right. I wouldn’t do that if I were them, but I suppose they could be positioning themselves for a coaching job within the organization in the future, so perhaps it’s a smart move.

      • jimfetterolf

        Tomko said that they would have to tear the uniform off his back. He’s made over $21m in his career, probably is set for life, and obviously loves the game. If he gets another major league check, great, if not, no big deal. At this stage of his career, the mentoring is important, he’s full of experience and literally feels the need to pass it on. Not unusual for “old” guys.

        • Dave Hill

          Tomko seems to accept that he will be in AAA, and it sounds like he is relishing that idea. He, more than the other two, seems to be a signing made with the idea of his being a defacto coach in the minors more than anything else.

  • unclejesse40

    I guess I just don’t see what the harm is in bringing in Jurrjens on a minor league deal. Penny hadn’t really done anything since like 2008 and I always hear that there really isnt a bad minor league deal. Jurrjens is a former Brave and so is GMDM, I see a fit here. Do I think he is going to be a major piece to a championship run, no. But I do think that if he is pitching well in AAA and any team needs a 4th or 5th starter to plug a hole might be willing to give up a young prospect in order to win now. I understand the mentor part but I also know there is value in having competition and a guy trying to get back to the majors is going to really push people more than a guy looking to get a coaching gig later.