KC Royals: Making the case, Cincinnati free agents

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /
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KC Royals
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Do three other pitchers offer anything to the KC Royals?

Kansas City won’t get Trevor Bauer and Jesse Biddle isn’t the lefty the Royals could use in the bullpen, leaving a trio of Cincinnati free agent hurlers for the club to ponder.

Of those three, Anthony DeSclafani is the only starter. With six years in the big leagues, he’s a veteran but probably not the kind of seasoned hurler the Royals need to guide and tutor their young rotation. DeSclafani is a righty, which the Royals have many of and, although he’s been fairly steady—37-39 with a 4.29 ERA in his six campaigns—and generally possesses good control (2.5 career BB9), Kansas City shouldn’t be satisfied with a pedestrian back-of-the-rotation piece. They’re turning the corner and need more than that.

Nate Jones knows the KC Royals, and they know him. Jones spent eight years with the American League Central Division rival White Sox and faced Kansas City 39 times, posting a 2.52 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 39.1 innings.

He’s 22-14 in nine big league seasons and went 0-1 with a 6.27 ERA (but fanned 23 in 18.2 innings) in 2020, his first campaign with the Reds. He had control issues his last three White Sox campaigns but appeared to harness them with Cincinnati by walking less than three hitters per nine frames.

The Royals could do worse than Jones if they’re looking for another right-handed reliever. That’s something they don’t need, however, and shouldn’t be considering.

Then there’s Tyler Thornburg. The fact he’s a righty reliever is enough to make the Royals pass; that he missed 2017 with surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome, gave up far too many runs as a reliever for Boston in 2018 and ’19 (ERAs of 5.63 and 7.71), didn’t pitch much for the Reds in 2020, and had Tommy John surgery earlier this Fall, is enough to force them to.