Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
Free Agent Signing – Justin Masterson (2 years, $20 Million, $250k bonus for All-Star appearances)
The Royals came into the offseason looking for a starter to replace James Shields. With Shields, Max Scherzer and Jon Lester all likely to receive top of the market deals, that left the next tier of starters. A.J. Burnett was off the board, given his real life signing with the Pirates, and I felt that Ervin Santana may prove to be more expensive than I was comfortable with. Therefore, in search of a bargain, I targeted Justin Masterson.
Masterson, who I profiled here, had an ugly 2014 season, posting a combined 7-9 record with a 5.88 ERA and a 1.653 WHiP between the Cleveland Indians and the St. Louis Cardinals. He battled through a knee injury for much of the season and, as a result, his control suffered as Masterson walked 4.8 batters per nine innings, his highest mark since 2009. So, why this contract, right?
Well, back in 2013, and in 2011, Justin Masterson had solid seasons. In fact, in 2013, he was an All-Star selection, posting a 14-10 record with a 3.45 ERA and a 1.202 WHiP, striking out over a batter per inning. That type of production is worth more than $10 Million per season.
Add in the Royals excellent defense around the diamond, and it may be likely that Masterson would be back to his 2013 form. Last season, he had a .347 batting average on balls in play against, compared to .288 the previous season. Even with regular defense, Masterson should have been better. Imagine what he would do with the Royals.
It may have seemed like a bit of an overpay based on last year, but I feel that Masterson at $10 Million per would turn out to be a steal. Now, on to the trades!