Royals: Making the correct free agent gambles can make all the difference

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
4 of 6
Kansas City Royals, Michael Wacha
(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) /

Michael Wacha began his career as a dominant pitcher. Due to injuries and inconsistency, he will be available this season at a discount. The Royals should consider giving him a shot.

The St. Louis Cardinals drafted Michael Wacha in the first round of the 2012 draft. By the end of the 2013 season, he had started 5 postseason games averaging over 6 innings per start and striking out more than a batter per inning. He would also win the NLCS MVP award that year against the Dodgers. All before he was 22 years old.

Since that 2013 season, Wacha has still mostly pitched well when healthy. He has only had an ERA over 5 one time. His ERA+ has been well above average for 5 of his 7 seasons. His career FIP remains a very respectable 3.96.

Injuries have been consistent and debilitating for Wacha. He has not started more than 24 games since 2017. He has only thrown more than 166 innings one time in his entire career. And, this season, trying to pitch through injuries really seemed to catch up to him.

There are still plenty of reasons to think Wacha may have his best seasons ahead of him. 2020 will only be his age 28 season. When he was actually healthy for a bit in 2018 he did start 15 games with an ERA of 3.20 and an ERA+ of 121. Those numbers, albeit over a shorter sample size, are even better than his All-Star season of 2015.

Wacha should be available on a very short-term, very inexpensive deal. I do not think he should be the only pitcher we sign this offseason. But, if he is one we took a chance on, I would understand the thought process. It would not be shocking to see Wacha put together a good year if he is ever able to stay healthy.