Ahead of Kansas City Royals free agency, let’s take a look at some Philadelphia Phillies free agents and decide whether or not the team should pursue them.
Welcome to the continuation of our “Kansas City Royals: Making the case” series for free agency. The Philadelphia Phillies were the definition of an average team in 2019 despite signing star outfielder Bryce Harper to a mega-contract during the offseason. Going 81-81, second-year manager Gabe Kapler was relieved of his duties following the conclusion of the 2019 campaign.
Per Spotrac’s official list, Philadelphia has 14 players who have the potential to become free agents this offseason. Are any players worth Royals general manager Dayton Moore pursuing this winter? Let’s find out.
Jake Arrieta, P
Arrieta has a player option he has to decide whether to accept or decline. It’s for $20 million per season over the next three campaigns. Multiple factors play a role in guessing which option he’ll pick. First and foremost, his age and performance. Arrieta will be 34 by the beginning of next season, and his level of play has slowly deteriorated since he won the Cy Young award in 2015. In addition to that, the health of his elbow over time is a concern. Even if Arrieta hits the free agent market this offseason, the Kansas City Royals should steer clear.
Tommy Hunter, P
Injuries limited Hunter to 5.1 innings pitched in 2019. Over his last two healthy seasons (2017 and 2018), Hunter posted ERAs of 2.61 and 3.80 out of the bullpen. At 33 years old, he’s a bit old for the timeline of the Kansas City Royals, but Dayton Moore could give him a one-year “prove it” deal amidst a rebuild on-the-fly.
Juan Nicasio, P
Another 33-year-old Philly free agent, Nicasio has struggled recently. In 2018, the right-hander tossed 42 innings with an ERA of 6.00. The following season, those numbers rose and decreased to 47.1 and 4.75, respectively. His FIPs during that stretch (2.99 and 3.87) indicate some rotten luck, and it certainly helps that the better of his two seasons came in 2019. He isn’t as enticing of a potential signing as Hunter, but the same verdict stands.
Corey Dickerson, LF
Dickerson is a fine left fielder, spending time with both the Phillies and the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2019. Playing in 78 total games over the course of the season, Dickerson hit for a line of 0.304/0.341/0.565. He’s good for a decent amount of home runs per year as well. If the Royals needed a left fielder, he’d be a great option. Unfortunately, they’ve got a lot of internal problems to sort out in the outfield, more so in center. As things currently stand, the Royals should probably stand pat.
Pat Neshek, P
Neshek battled injuries and underwent hamstring surgery later in the 2019 season. At 39, he doesn’t fit the mold of Kansas City Royals relievers at this time.
Jason Vargas, P
Many remember Vargas for his four seasons with the Kansas City Royals. Unfortunately, age is taking a toll on him and even if Philadelphia declines its club option for him (it will probably do so), signing a soon-to-be 37-year-old starter won’t help the Royals much at all.
Drew Smyly, P
Smyly, a 30-year-old lefty, split time with the Texas Rangers and Phillies last season. After seeing his ERA balloon to 8.42 in 51.1 innings with Texas, he pitched quite a bit better in Philly. In 62.2 innings, Smyly’s ERA was 4.45 and his ERA+ of 101 provides some optimism that he can return to form in 2020. He didn’t pitch at the MLB level in 2017 or 2018, though, and wasn’t very good in 2016 when he did. Unless it’s for peanuts, the Royals can probably let him sign somewhere else.
Jared Hughes, P
Hughes has a $3 million option on his contract, but it’s controlled by the Phillies. He pitched fairly well with the team down the stretch, allowing 10 runs in 23 innings. A 6.47 FIP indicates Hughes may be due for some regression in 2020, though. Turning 35 in the middle of next season, Hughes is a decent option as a reliever, but only if he comes at a very cheap price. It’s a risky move, but one that could provide some stability for a season.
Verdict: Potentially (pending club option)
Logan Morrison, DH
Morrison played just 29 games for Philadelphia. His batting averages over the past two seasons are 0.186 and 0.200, respectively. Offering little in terms of positional versatility or on-base skills, Morrison’s sharp decline came at a horrible time.
Salas’ performance has declined over the last three seasons and he’ll turn 35 next season. If Hughes barely qualifies for a “potential” signing, Salas won’t cut it.
Brad Miller, UTIL
Miller appeared in 66 games for the Phillies last season, posting a line of 0.263/0.331/0.610. At the age of 29, it was arguably his best season as a pro. Hitting the open market as a player who can fill in at various positions on defense and provide a little bit of pop, he’s a poor man’s Whit Merrifield. Luckily for the Kansas City Royals, they have the real deal.
Sean Rodriguez, UTIL
Rodriguez, much like Miller, is listed as a second baseman by Spotrac. He played more innings at third base, shortstop and in the outfield than he did at second base last season, though. Despite having a lifetime line of 0.226/0.302/0.380, the 34-year-old continues to find work. That won’t be in Kansas City next season, though.
Nick Vincent, P
Vincent pitched not only for Phillies in 2019, but also for the San Francisco Giants. It was a tale of two seasons for the 33-year-old righty, as his ERA and ERA+ with the Giants (5.58, 76) couldn’t hold a candle to those he posted in 14 innings with the Phillies (1.93, 238). In each of the four seasons leading up to 2019, Vincent’s ERA+ was over 100. He might be worth taking a flyer on.
Shane Robinson, OF
Robinson turns 35 years old at the end of October and didn’t play in the major leagues in 2019. Scene.
Philadelphia has a couple of bullpen arms that may interest the Kansas City Royals. Nothing that will help the team once it’s ready to contend, but options in the present aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Overall, look for Dayton Moore to possibly see one or two of these names pass his desk over the next few months.