The Dodgers are a perennial force in the NL West. The Kansas City Royals would be wise to consider any of their free agents as possible upgrades.
For the Los Angeles Dodgers, 2019 was an exact replica of almost every season for them since 2013. They seem to be stuck in some reboot of Groundhog Day where they are forced to relive the same baseball season over and over again. They win their division, usually in dominating fashion. Then they proceed to the playoffs, where they fall short.
But, the remarkable consistency of the Dodgers to come up short in the playoffs every season should not detract from their superb level of talent. They win games behind an excellent offense and an incredible pitching staff. They won 106 games in 2019. The Kansas City Royals have never won 106 games. If any of the pieces they value are available on the free market, we should take a good look.
Rich Hill, P
Rich Hill continues to pitch well when healthy. Over his 3 seasons with the Dodgers, his FIP was 3.90 and he struck out more than 10 batters per 9 innings. He is coming off his big-money contract and should be available at a reasonable price. However, it is the “when healthy” part of Rich Hill that concerns everyone. After throwing more than 130 innings in both 2017 and 2018, he only made it through 58 innings this season. And, as he enters his age 40 season, it is worth noting that he averages just over 60 innings per season over his 15-year career.
Not particularly reassuring for a starting pitcher. He pitches well enough to have value. But even in his healthier seasons, he seems lucky to get through 130 innings. If the price tag is low enough, Hill would be worth a shot as a backend starter, or especially as a long reliever on a good pitching staff. Although, to this point, we are not a good pitching staff and we need people who can eat innings. I would worry about investing money into an older pitcher who is lucky to make it to the All-Star Break in one piece.
Russell Martin, C
Russell Martin will be entering his age 37 season in 2020. He is now a below-average catcher that no longer has any pop in his bat, although he can still get on base. We have a veteran catcher. And we have too many holes to worry about spending money on a backup catcher. Martin also has made it clear he may retire if he is unable to catch on with a contending ballclub. I would guess that would rule out the team who has lost 207 games over the last two seasons.
Hyun-jin Ryu, P
Ryu accepted the qualifying offer from the Dodgers last offseason. And that decision is about to pay off for the left-handed starter. In 2019 Ryu stayed healthy through 182 innings. His WHIP was 1.01. He got almost 7 strikeouts for every walk he issued. He was brilliant. He will also be 33 next season and has had some issues staying healthy. Should the Royals pursue the top pitchers in free agency, even when they may be overpriced? Absolutely. Will they? Doubtful.
Kenley Jansen, P
Kenley Jansen has a choice this offseason. The once-dominant closer, now decent reliever, could opt out of his guaranteed $38 million over the next two years and test the free-agent waters. Jansen has seen his FIP go from 1.30 to 3.50 over the last two seasons. His ERA+ has come down from the supernatural 315 to the almost average of 112. Assuming Master P is not Kenley Jansen’s agent, he will be a reliever for the Dodgers next season.
Jedd Gyorko, 3B
The question surrounding Jedd Gyorko is whether his 2019 season was merely the result of injuries. He spent much of 2019 on the injured list. But even before he was on the injured list, he was unable to hit. Gyorko had been a consistent batter for much of his career as a utility infielder. For 3 seasons in St. Louis, he was always an above-average hitter, although there were already signs that his power abilities were tailing off.
Gyorko will sign somewhere next year, however, he does come with warning signs attached. Kansas City needs to add some bats they can count on when they are signing free agents for 2020. Otherwise, we are probably better off letting the younger players get at-bats.