After a 2019 season riddled with bad pitching, the Kansas City Royals need to mend the problem, at least until the young, drafted talent is ready.
The Kansas City Royals have a pitching problem. The organization knows this, the players know this, and the fans know this. It’s been talked about, written about, tweeted about, you name it. The question that still remains, even after all this coverage, is what is going to be done about it?
There is a lot of discussion about the college talent the Royals drafted to solve all of their problems, but that fact of the matter is, those young arms need more time. Some of them may be ready to visit Kansas City during the 2020 season, but most of them are going to need a little more time.
To fill this gap, likely until at least 2021, the Royals have a few options. They can continue working with the same rotation and bullpen that struggled to stay in games in 2019, or, they can search for some free agents that could at a minimum, eat some innings until the young cavalry arrives.
Most understand that the Royals will not likely make a huge splash in the free-agent market unless the new owner decides he wants to make a good first impression. More realistically, the team will make some small acquisitions that can either fill the void for a year or two or turn around for some prospects in July.
Typically, the Royals will sign players that could turn into busts, but could also turn into a nice trade chip and provide them with some great return. Enter: Wade Miley. Miley might not be on the top of everyone’s list of free agents this year, but he could be a decent option for the Royals to look into a little deeper.
Miley spent 2019 with the Houston Astros. He finished the season with a 14-6 record over 33 starts, 167.1 innings pitched, an ERA of 3.98 and an FIP of 4.51 and 140 strikeouts. Miley, as seen, put together a decent season on a team where he wasn’t even one of the best.
Miley pitched well for the majority of the season, holding his ERA at 3.76 or lower during the months of April through August. He was typically good for 5 or 6 innings and helped to keep the Astros in the game when he was on the mound.
Miley does come with some downsides, though. First off, Miley will enter the 2020 season at age 33. Second, Miley struggled to end the season on a good note. His September ERA of 16.68 and 28 hits and 21 earned runs over 11.1 innings for the month doesn’t provide a lot of confidence. Miley also struggles with walks at times, holding a 3.3 BB9.
As far as his age goes, Miley would not be a long term fix for the Royals. A lot of the free-agent starting pitchers this year are age 29 and older. Though the rebuilding Royals are looking for younger talent to help in the future, starting pitching may be something they have to work on with short term deals for now.
As for his September performance, this shouldn’t worry the Royals too much. Pitchers fluctuate and go through slumps like any other players. Unfortunately for Miley, his hit hard at the end of the season. Miley also only pitched 16 games in 2018 due to an injury, which could speak to some end of the year fatigue issues for his September slump.
With his few downsides, Miley is more of a medium risk, high reward free agent (if he comes at the right price) for the Royals, as opposed to their usual high risk, medium reward signings. It could go all wrong for the Royals, but a signing like Miley instills much more confidence than signings like Brad Boxberger or Chris Owings.
While Miley currently has a career ERA of 4.23, he also has a history of starting over 30 games and being a reliable arm in the rotation. Miley also played an important role that may have been looked over in Houston with all of their high priced pitching talent.
Miley pitched to keep the Astros in the game, not to shut out the other team. While it would be nice, the Royals don’t need, and can’t afford, a pitcher like Gerrit Cole at this point in their rebuild. Instead, they need another consistent arm that can allow their surging offense to win games, even if they do walk a few batters.
Also a positive for the Royals, Miley could come at a lower price. There will be a lot of money spent in the free agency this year, but there are some good position players and a large number of great pitchers that will take a majority of the money up in the air.
MLBtraderumors.com has Miley going for two years at $16 million. While this might be a bit steep for the Royals typical free agent signings, he could go even lower. Miley could be an afterthought and if he struggles to find a team, the Royals may be able to cash in.
If his price does drop even lower, Miley could provide the Royals with a super nice trade piece come July. If the Royals have a better year than expected, Miley could also stick around and provide a strong veteran presence for the young group of pitchers the Royals field daily.
Miley could be a good signing, or he could turn into a bust for the Royals. If the team is going to consistently sign players that are DFA’d by the middle of the year though, it would be a lot nicer to see them try and go for a player with multiple upsides.
While it’s not likely the Royals will look to a pitcher like Miley to beef up their rotation in 2020, it’s a nice thought to have. The Royals need to make some moves to ensure they can continue to move along in the rebuild, though, or else the 100 loss seasons will continue to pile up.