The Royals should bring back former top pitching prospect John Lamb on a minor-league deal after the Tampa Bay Rays released the 26-year-old lefty on Friday afternoon.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times Tweeted news of Lamb’s release on Friday:
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) November 18, 2016
The Kansas City Royals traded John Lamb to the Cincinnati Reds along with Brandon Finnegan and Cody Reed in their July, 2015 deadline deal for ace Johnny Cueto. Lamb soon moved into the Cincinnati starting rotation, but struggled in 24 starts across the 2015 and 2016 seasons with a 6.17 ERA.
The Reds then dealt Lamb to Tampa Bay for cash on Nov. 2, 2016, but he never appeared in a game with the Rays.
However, Lamb also compiled encouraging strikeout (8.7 K/9) and walk (3.8 BB/9) rates in major league baseball. His main problem was his outrageous 1.7 HR/9. Of course, Lamb made 14 of his 24 starts in Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark, which is one of the most homer-happy parks in baseball.
Kauffman Stadium Would Neutralize Lamb’s Gopher Ball Problem
Lamb wouldn’t have that problem in Kansas City, which has the biggest outfield in major league baseball by square footage.
Not only that, Lamb dominated for AAA Omaha in 2015 posting a 2.67 ERA with an outstanding 9.2 K/9. The KC Royals just might know how to wring a similar performance from him since he spent seven seasons in the Kansas City system. No one knows him better than the KC front office.
However, Lamb has undergone two back surgeries in the last 11 months. At this point, he might be damaged goods. What could make such a pick-up make sense is that Lamb would demand no more than a minor league deal. In short, he’s cheap and still could have upside that the familiar coaching might tease out of him.
Lamb is exactly the kind of starting pitching depth that the Kansas City Royals could stash at AAA for an emergency. The Royals just might be able to capture a little bit of the promise that made Baseball Prospectus rate Lamb the 11th best prospect in MLB before the 2011 season.
Who knows? Maybe the KC Royals could move Lamb to the bullpen and discover yet another dominant back-end arm. There’s really little to lose and Lamb’s the kind of lottery ticket Kansas City can afford given their tight payroll. At least they know he’d fit in the organization.