Kansas City Royals: What to do with Bubba Starling now

SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 22: Bubba Starling #11 of the Kansas City Royals poses for a portrait during photo day at Surprise Stadium on February 22, 2018 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 22: Bubba Starling #11 of the Kansas City Royals poses for a portrait during photo day at Surprise Stadium on February 22, 2018 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The Kansas City Royals are going to have to make a decision soon. With the injury history of Bubba Starling, it seems obvious what the Royals should do. It’s just a matter of if they do it.

The Kansas City Royals have found themselves in an interesting situation. The teams former 5th overall pick in 2011 has been a letdown. He has had one of the most frustrating professional careers a player could have. Not because of performance, but because of health.

Bubba Starling had a chance to be the next “hometown kid”. Alex Gordon is the one player that fits that mold right now, coming to the Royals from Nebraska. Starling though, he was the kid from Gardner, Kansas. Just 30 miles away from Kansas City.

After hitting .275/.371/.485 at Burlington (Rookie) in 2012, Starling got the promotion to Lexington (A-Ball) in 2013. He didn’t perform great, but he did find his way into getting promoted to Wilmington (Adv A-Ball) in 2014. While the wheels started wobbling in Lexington, they completely fell off in Wilmington and Northwest Arkansas.

Over 153 games in Double-A, Starling hit a lackluster .225/.290/.383 and has hit .225/.276/.336 over 138 games in Triple-A. To say he has struggled offensively is an understatement. The second most frustrating thing about that is that it was known his offense was his weakest area. Going into the draft it was reported that he could be a 5-tool player, with his offense being the worst tool. Here is an excerpt from Project Prospect back in 2011 before the MLB Draft.

"Overall, Starling displayed outstanding raw talent. He flashed five-tool potential, though his weakest tool is currently his hit tool. He didn’t show the ability to use the whole field and still needs some refinement mechanically with his swing."

Which leads to the most frustrating thing about Bubba Starling

Coming out of high school, injury never really came up as a concern. He obviously had a couple injuries in high school, but he was also a quarterback for the high school football team. But the extent of his injuries he has suffered during his professional career is beyond frustrating.

Injury Breakdown:

  • May 13th, 2015 – 7-day DL – Activated June 6th, 2015
  • July 13th, 2017 – 7-day DL – Activated August 11th, 2017
  • August 21st, 2017 – 7-day DL
  • August 26th, 2017 – Transferred to the 60-day DL – Activated November 2nd, 2017
  • March 26th, 2018 – 10-day DL – Reassigned April 27th, 2018
  • May 14th, 2018 – 7-day DL – Reassigned July 4th, 2018
  • July 19th, 2018 – Placed on DL, expected to miss 6-weeks.

As you can see, the injuries really started in 2015 and they have not let up. In total, Starling has spent over 250 days on the disabled list. It becomes increasingly difficult to figure out what a player can do and what their future is with the team when he is never playing.

So what should the Royals do?

The answer seems simple. Give Starling the same treatment you are currently giving Kyle Zimmer. Zimmer is in the same category as Starling when it comes to the inability to stay healthy. What they did with Zimmer that was important though was to remove him from their 40-man roster.

Currently, Starling is holding one of the 40-man roster spots. The Royals have a few players who would benefit more with that roster spot than Starling currently is.

I’m not saying that the Royals need to give up completely on Starling. Perhaps he is going to be a late bloomer like Whit Merrifield. Maybe the Royals figure out another way to utilize him by putting him on the mound. Completely letting him go isn’t going to be worth it though, in my opinion.

However, removing him from the 40-man roster has to happen. To do that, they would have the Designate for Assignment Starling and hope he makes it through waivers. I highly doubt another team will pick him up. But if some team does, the Royals still did what was right.

Final Thoughts

I am as frustrated with the news as anyone. When you look back at that draft, the Royals had a great opportunity to draft many other high-quality players. However, looking back and thinking “what if” doesn’t solve any problems right now.

The Royals need to start exhausting all options. Starling typically ends up on the DL because of a leg injury simply means something has to change. The approach they take with Starling has to be shifted in some way.

Or, they DFA him, let him fall through waivers, reassign him somewhere in the system, and hope that he turns it around at some point. But in order for this to be an option, they have to remove him from the 40-man roster. If they won’t remove him, then keeping him honestly holds back the rebuild and the Royals ability to see what someone else can do.

Next: Salvador Perez, the 6-time All-Star

What do you think Royals fans? Do you believe the Royals should completely give up on Starling? How would you handle him within the team? Let us know below!