Every offseason there seems to be an injured pitcher who teams consider signing, knowing full well they won’t be ready until the following campaign. It’s a move few teams can afford to make, which is why those pitchers often go unsigned. It happened to Greg Holland after his Tommy John surgery in 2015, and it happened to Luke Hochevar following his thoracic outlet syndrome surgery in 2016. It could happen to Trevor Rosenthal this offseason.
Now, if some random team wants to take a chance on signing Rosenthal to a two-year deal, that’s their prerogative. Just so long as that team isn’t the Kansas City Royals. The team could use bullpen help, but it needs help in 2018. Plus, the franchise has enough money tied up in next year’s payroll for guys who will actually play. They can’t afford to pay someone to recover from Tommy John surgery. Even if that someone would arguably be their best reliever if healthy in 2019.
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If the Royals decided next winter that Rosenthal made sense to pick up, then it’s harder to argue, particularly if the closer options in 2018 fail to impress. He’s a local kid (went to high school in Missouri and community college in Kansas) and had a pair of solid seasons closing for the Cardinals. Rosenthal struggled mightily in 2016, partly due to injuries, but he seemed to have recovered somewhat until his latest arm injury in August.
For what it’s worth, Jon Heyman and his “expert” on contracts both predict Rosenthal — their No. 80 free agent, right after Liriano — would go unsigned. Heyman notes that it could be in Rosenthal’s best interest to wait a year before signing, even if he gets offers this winter. Given the crop of relief pitchers this offseason, highlighted by Holland and Wade Davis, it would make sense that Rosenthal wait until he can be one of the top closers on the market.
What do you think? Should the Royals target any of the listed players? Who are some players you hope the team avoids? Let us know your thoughts.