Kansas City Royals: Clay Buchholz opts for free agency

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 11: Starting pitcher Clay Buchholz
PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 11: Starting pitcher Clay Buchholz /

In a somewhat surprising move, the Kansas City Royals allow for Clay Buchholz to opt for free agency. So what does this exactly mean when looking at the Royals pitching?

The Kansas City Royals signed Clay Buchholz really late into the offseason. He spent time in Extended Spring Training and then worked his way through Northwest Arkansas and then Omaha. The 33-year-old was looking to bounce back after injury, but he was looking out for himself as his contract gave him a May 1st opt-out.

While in the Royals system he looked really good. Over his three starts between the two levels, Buchholz threw 16.0 innings where he posted a 1.13 ERA. During that time he struck out nine while walking seven and had a 1.063 WHIP. Not half bad when you look at what the Royals had one the team.

So why let him opt-out?

This is where part of the confusion comes into play. If he was having success in the minors and has shown that he can have success in the majors, why let him walk?

Well, for one thing, he did not have the same viewpoint on his usage as the Royals. The Royals wanted to use Buchholz as a bullpen arm, while Buchholz wanted to be a starter.

Now, I am sure you are thinking the same thing I wrote about a couple weeks back. If he wanted to be in the rotation, why not replace him with Eric Skoglund?

The potential answer

Well, the answer seems clear now. As a fan base, we have been calling for a “youth movement” all year. It seems as if we are going to start getting that.

For the pitching staff, they have already given Eric Stout, Trevor Oaks, and Scott Barlow a chance to showcase what they can do. They have also given Burch Smith, Brad Keller, and Tim Hill time this year. Which is exactly what the fans asked for to start the year. It just seems to be with the pitching right now.

The Royals are going to run with Skoglund as the fifth starter. Whether you want it or not, they do need to see what he can do. His last start was his best of his short career, going 7.0 innings, allowing one run that was a lead-off home run, striking out nine and walking one. Now the hope is he builds off of his last start and continue having success.

Having Buchholz in the rotation does very little for the teams moving forward. If they believed they could flip him at the deadline, then maybe they keep him and put him in the rotation. However, keeping him just prolongs the one thing fans are wanting…

What do the Royals have in the minors?

Final Thoughts

I wanted to see what Buchholz could do with the Royals. With his production in the minors so far, I feel like he could have been a big help. However, if Buchholz and the Royals have differing opinions on how to utilize him, the Royals really do not have much of a choice.

After giving it some thought, and listening to Josh Vernier on 610 Sports Radio today, he did not say much, but it was enough. When thinking about it, I would much rather see what Skoglund can actually do than what Buchholz can do coming back from injury. Skoglund is the future, and obviously, the Royals see him as a future piece of the team. So let him play.

And yes, I am aware that this counters what the Royals are doing with Lucas Duda and Jon Jay. But that is a conversation for a later time.

So what do you think Royals fans? Are you okay with the Royals letting Buchholz go? Would you rather see him in the rotation? Let us know below!