The Kansas City Royals have made a living off of taking players from other teams. Typically it is off waivers, cheap trades, or even Rule-5 Drafts. Some work and some don’t. With a year full of those moves working, this one isn’t.
The Kansas City Royals have a few successful “scrap heap” acquisitions this year. Acquiring Rosell Herrera from the Cincinnati Reds off waivers and draft/trading for Brad Keller in the Rule-5 Draft have worked for the Royals. However, the same can’t be said about Burch Smith.
Since being acquired by the Royals, Smith has struggled as a starter and a bullpen arm. To start the year, Smith was in the bullpen and had a 5.40 ERA over 38.0 innings and 24 appearances. He struck out 39 batters but walked 21 as well.
Injuries to the rotation resulted in Smith getting a chance at being a starter. Manager Ned Yost even gave the impression that this might be the better option for Smith because of how long it takes for him to get warmed up. He said that his warmup routine fits more as a starter than it did as a bullpen arm.
However, that doesn’t really seem to be the case. Since moving to the rotation Smith has struggled. Of his six starts for the Royals, four have resulted in him getting pulled after 4.0 innings or fewer. You can claim that players being “stretched out” don’t go deep into games to start, but two of his last four starts were 4.0 innings and 1.2 innings.
As a starter, Smith has a less than impressive. He has made six starts, going 22.1 innings and allowing 24 earned runs, resulting in a 9.77 ERA. He has struck out 20 batters while walking nine, which isn’t awful. However, for someone Yost said could be better off in the rotation than bullpen he isn’t holding up to those expectations.
In my opinion, this is one of those low-risk/high-reward attempts Dayton Moore has been known to make. While a good amount ends up working for him, this one should go into the pile of failed attempts. The Royals will most likely hold onto him all year due to the Rule-5 rules, but when September comes and the rosters expand I wouldn’t be surprised if we see less and less of Smith.
The 28-year-old has had a lackluster career in the big leagues. Before this year, Smith hadn’t seen the big league level since 2013 when he was a member of the San Diego Padres. During that time, the then 23-year-old struggled to maintain a presence on the big league roster, appearing in just 10 games.
Once the rosters expand, I personally want to see the Royals give other players a chance and the Royals do have options. Trevor Oaks (2.62 ERA over 18 starts and 106.2 innings) is still dominating at the Triple-A level as a starter. Richard Lovelady (2.93 ERA over 39 games and 61.1 innings) is dominating at Triple-A as a bullpen arm as well.
Even Jake Newberry (1.89 ERA over 39 games and 47.2 innings) is showing promise between Double-A and Triple-A. All three could benefit from Smith’s roster spot right now. Unfortunately for Lovelady and Newberry, neither are on the 40-man roster, which makes holding onto Smith that much harder.
I know Smith isn’t going to be a future piece for the Royals. Not just because of his production, but because of his age as well. He will be well into his 30s by the time the Royals are moving and grooving again, and if he has struggled at the big league level at age 23 and 28 I don’t think things will change in his 30s.
The idea was a good one by Dayton Moore. The execution from Smith’s side wasn’t. It’s going to be hard to sit back and watch with so many other players capable of having his roster spot, but in a few short weeks that will hopefully change.
What do you think Royals fans? Do you think the Royals should cut Smith now or just hold onto him and wait until September since the year is a wash? Let us know below!