The KC Royals have added another potential closer to their bullpen with the signing of Joakim Soria. Given the number of holes on their roster, should they have made that signing?
Joakim Soria has already made his mark on the Royals history book. With 160 saves in a Royals uniform, he ranks third all time in team history. Soria was also one of the few proven commodities available as a closer in free agency, looking to cash in during a thin market and at a time when relief pitcher salaries are beginning to skyrocket.
The Royals, meanwhile, even though they need help in the bullpen, are seemingly set over the final three innings. With Luke Hochevar, Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis, the Royals would seemingly have that lockdown combination ready once again. At this point, they would be filling in middle relievers while potentially looking for bargains, especially given the holes they need to fill elsewhere.
Instead, the Royals brought back Soria on a three year contract worth $25 Million, presumably to be the setup man for Davis. This would push Herrera back to his accustomed place in the seventh, while having Hochevar pitching in more of a middle relief role. The Royals bullpen, which had been such a strength, appears to be even more dominant than they had been in years past.
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Even with the bullpen becoming even more of a strength, it is fair to wonder if this is the best way the KC Royals could have spent their money. Despite winning the World Series, and seeing attendance surge once more, the Royals still have to figure out their outfield, potentially retain Alex Gordon, and look at another starting pitcher if Chris Young ends up back in his originally intended swingman role.
Unless, the idea is that Soria will slot into the rotation. He was a starter back before coming to the Royals originally, but it has been almost a decade at this point. Yet, according to a tweet by Jon Heyman, who indicates that Soria has incentives based on games started and innings pitched, that may be the case.
If the idea is truly to put Soria back into the rotation, the signing would make a slight bit more sense. However, given how long it has been since he started, and considering that there are quite a few pitchers available with similar, if not more, upside at a cheaper price, Soria still does not fit.
There is no denying that the signing of Joakim Soria makes the KC Royals better overall. Slotting him back into the bullpen, either as the closer or in the eighth inning to set up Davis, would allow the Royals to still have what would arguably be considered the best bullpen in baseball. But is this the most cost effective way for the Royals to be approaching their offseason?
Joakim Soria is back with the KC Royals. Time will tell if this was truly the best move for them to make in free agency, or if they spent far too much on a luxury item they truly did not need.