Ahead of Kansas City Royals free agency, let’s take a look at the Oakland Athletics’ upcoming free agents and decide whether the team should pursue any.
Welcome to the continuation of our “Kansas City Royals: Making the case” series for free agency. For the second-straight season, the Oakland Athletics won 97 games and advanced to the American League Wild Card Game. Unfortunately, the team also lost for the second-straight year. In order to advance deeper in the postseason next year, Oakland will have to nail the majority of its decisions this offseason, starting with free agency.
Per Spotrac’s official list, the Athletics have just four pending free agents as we approach the offseason. Under new ownership and increased expectations moving forward, are any players worth Royals general manager Dayton Moore pursuing this winter? Let’s find out.
Tanner Roark, P
Roark was a bit of a late bloomer, making his MLB debut at the age of 26. Over his seven-year career, the righty has a 74-64 record. Last season, he was traded from the Cincinnati Reds to the Athletics midseason. After posting a 4.24 ERA and 107 ERA+ with Cincinnati, Roark’s didn’t fare quite as well in Oakland. In 10 starts, the veteran tossed 55 innings of ball and held an ERA of 4.58. A 5.63 FIP indicates a bit of good luck may have been in play but nevertheless, he was still respectable.
As Roark enters his age-33 season, he probably doesn’t make much sense for the Kansas City Royals. He’s a decent back-of-the-rotation option but with so much youth fighting for just a few spots both now and in the near future, adding an older starter may not be the best move. Especially if he’s just average. The Royals don’t need another Homer Bailey situation (more on that later).
Another veteran starter, Anderson’s second run with the Athletics was capped off with a good 2019 performance. A former second-round pick, Anderson has never quite lived up to the expectations thrust upon him in 2006. He’s made 30-plus starts in just three seasons, with 2019 being one of them. In 176 innings of work, the lefty’s 111 ERA+ and 1.307 WHIP were both very solid.
By the time the 2019 season rolls around, Anderson will be 32 years old. That’s not ancient by any means, and not necessarily aging, but it doesn’t quite fit the Royals’ timeline. Danny Duffy and Mike Montgomery are both 30 years old. Because of Anderson’s shaky track record and age, he’d only be a suitable option on a one- or two-year deal.
Verdict: Pass (probably)
Homer Bailey, P
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Bailey signed a minor league contract with the Kansas City Royals ahead of the 2019 season and ended up playing his way into a midseason trade. After catching fire in the middle of a 90-inning stretch with Kansas City, Bailey was shipped to Oakland and performed even better.
A 4.30 ERA over 13 starts isn’t sexy, but a 3.65 FIP paints a clearer picture of how solid Bailey was as the season unfolded. With that said, he’ll turn 34 early in the 2020 campaign and the Royals have already gone down that road.
Hatcher didn’t pitch in 2018 and will turn 35 in January. He’s the only reliever on this list but even then, he isn’t a good one. The Royals can look elsewhere.
The Kansas City Royals are in the process of rebuilding. That’s common knowledge. Oakland has three so-so, not-ancient-but-not-young starters hitting the free agent market. So-so doesn’t win many baseball games and although the current state of the Royals’ rotation is poor, none of these arms will improve it much.