According to various rumors, the Kansas City Royals could solidify rotation by adding Scott Kazmir and Chris Young.
The Kansas City Royals are rumored to be pursuing free agent starter Scott Kazmir and are close to resigning Chris Young. Adding these pitchers would provide some much needed consistency to a staff that desperately needs it. As a whole, the starting staff was 12th in the American League with a 4.34 ERA and last in innings pitched with 912.2. Their BB/9 rate tied them with the Rangers for last in the league, and their 6.49 K/9 rate ranked 12th.
Obviously, the Royals bullpen has been among the best in baseball over the last several years and has been a major key to their success. Losing Greg Holland (TJ surgery) and Ryan Madson (free agency), definitely hurts. The back-end of the bullpen is still strong with Hochevar, Herrera, and Davis all returning, however, the team will need to rely more on its starters.
It appears that Chris Young will return to the Royals after an impressive 2015 season. Young was solid for the Royals in 2015, providing 123.1 innings and posting a 3.06 ERA. Pitching well as a starter, and out of the bullpen, his versatility was quite valuable.
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Young would likely be pitch from the 4th or 5th spot in the rotation to start the season, but could be moved to the bullpen later on in the year if needed. The price tag on Young seems to be pretty reasonably affordable considering how well he pitched for the team last year. According to a report by Joel Sherman, the value of the deal is in the $11 million range.
The Royals had also been rumored to be interested in free agent Scott Kazmir. That news was confirmed today by Buster Olney.
Kazmir pitched well for Oakland in 2014 and 2015 before he was traded to Houston at the trade deadline. He struggled a bit in Houston, but overall pitched 183 innings with a 3.10 ERA. Known more as a contact pitcher, Kazmir still has the ability to strike batters out at a decent rate, recording 155 last year. His 34% fly ball rate was the 20th highest in MLB last year and should play well in spacious Kauffman Stadium. This would definitely be a solid pickup for Kansas City.
It may prove difficult to land the veteran lefty however, as he is likely being targeted by a significant number of teams. The cost may end up being too high for the Royals as well. It is expected teams will be willing to offer a 3 year contract with an annual value of at least $10 to $12 million. More likely than not, that figure will be driven up due to the amount of teams in pursuit. I suspect Kansas City won’t be willing to go beyond $12 or $13 million per year.
Should both pitchers sign with the Kansas City, the starting staff would likely be: Yordano Ventura, Edinson Volquez, Scott Kazmir, Chris Young, and Danny Duffy. Kris Medlen is an option, but it is unclear if he will be able to start for a complete season due to the continued process of returning to full strength after two TJ surgeries. Danny Duffy pitched as a starter and reliever last year, but the team isn’t ready to give up on him as a starter. If Yordano Ventura can be consistent, this rotation would be significantly improved.