Kansas City Royals Potential Non-Tender Targets

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Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Neftali Feliz

There was a time when Neftali Feliz appeared to be on the verge of being one of the top young closers in the American League. As a 22 year old in 2010, Feliz made the All-Star team and was named the AL Rookie of the Year. In that two year run of 2010 and 2011, Feliz posted 72 saves with a 2.73 ERA and a 1.010 WHiP, striking out 125 batters in 131.2 innings.

Then came the Rangers ill-fated attempt to convert Feliz into a starter in 2012. He lasted all of eight games before needing Tommy John surgery, then did not make a real return to the majors until July 4, 2014. He pitched well in his return, posting a 1.99 ERA and a 0.979 WHiP while returning to to closer role, and appeared ready to pick up where he left off.

Unfortunately for Feliz, the wheels fell off last season. He lost his closer spot for the Rangers, and after posting a 4.56 ERA and a 1.678 WHiP, he was released. Signed by the Tigers the next day, Feliz was even worse in Detroit, with a 7.62 ERA and a 1.482 WHiP.

At only 27 years old, Feliz still has the potential to be a solid reliever. His fastball velocity was higher than it had been since 2012 last season, and his command was right at his career average. In fact, it appears as though Feliz was done in by the batted ball, as he allowed a .357 batting average on balls in play. With a career mark at .243, some regression was to be expected, but a difference of over 110 points likely was not.

Feliz’s struggles could well have been a matter of the defense behind him. With the Kansas City Royals defense, and the spacious grounds of Kauffman Stadium, Feliz could get back to being the pitcher he had been before. At what would be a low cost investment, he would be worth the risk.

Next: How healthy is he?