Over the past few years, the Kansas City Royals have become renowned for their excellent bullpen. Players like Luke Hochevar, Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera were all home grown talents, while Wade Davis was acquired via trade. Any free agents were typically pitchers akin to Ryan Madson, reclamation projects that the Royals were able to get at a bargain rate and help recapture their former success.
This season, there is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the bullpen. Only three pitchers, Hochevar, Davis and Herrera, are currently locked in. While the Royals could well look towards internal options, or even the typical reclamation project on a low cost deal, the sheer amount of pitchers needed may preclude the Royals from strictly being able to fill their openings that way.
With that being the case, it is not a surprise that the Royals would have interest in a few of the free agent relievers available. However, it may be surprising that they are interested in arguably the best available reliever, Darren O’Day. According to Jon Heyman, the Kansas City Royals are one of the six teams with significant interest in the former Orioles setup man.
Over the past four years, O’Day has been one of the best setup men in baseball, posting a 1.92 ERA and a 0.939 WHiP. In his 263 innings, O’Day has struck out 283 batters while issuing only 62 walks. He has certainly seen a lot of use, as he has appeared in 68 games in each of the past three years, after making 69 appearances in 2012, but his submarine delivery helps alleviate some of the wear on his arm.
O’Day would certainly be an interesting option for the Royals, but he does not seem to be the type of reliever they would have targeted. Projected to receive a three year contract, perhaps north of $20 Million, the cost would seem quite steep for the Royals to be paying a middle reliever or seventh inning man. Considering the amount of openings currently on the roster, and the Royals payroll limitations, o’Day would just seem to be a luxury that they cannot afford.
The Kansas City Royals bullpen has been a true weapon during this recent run of success, and Darren O’Day is arguably the best reliever available. However, at his expected cost, he just is not worth the investment for the Royals.