The KC Royals may want to look at some pitching, but the Tigers don’t have much to offer.
Pitchers make up the bulk of the Tigers’ small free-agent pool, with two starters and one listed as both a starter and reliever option. While the Royals may be interesting in bringing in another pitcher or two to help their young staff, they should likely look elsewhere.
The reliever/starter Hector Santiago didn’t play in 2020 as he was released in July by Detroit. He has seen a fair amount of time in the majors, playing for the White Sox, Angels, Twins, and Mets, but other than some decent seasons to begin his career and an All-Star game appearance in 2015, he has regressed. He could be a possible reclamation for the Royals but is likely better left for someone else.
Ivan Nova is one that Royals fans may remember. Nova has done his time around baseball as well, but has seen better success in recent seasons. He was injured for a majority of 2020 and only saw 19.0 innings, but in 2019, he started 34 games and pitched 187.0 innings with an ERA of 4.72 and FIP of 4.98.
Along with Nova is Jordan Zimmermann. Zimmermann spent most of his career split between the Nationals and the Tigers. He finished top 10 in Cy Young voting in both 2013 and 2014, but has seen less and less success since. He had good seasons with a low ERA and FIP up until 2016, where he started with Detroit. Since then, he has struggled to find his footing. Zimmerman was also injured for most of 2020, only pitching 5.2 innings.
Nova and Zimmermann both do well at keeping their walks low, and could be good inning eaters if needed. For the Royals to seriously consider either, though, the price would have to be low, and likely minor league deal.
If the Royals are going to add pitching, they will need someone with sustained success to teach their prospects how to adapt to the majors. It’s likely best that Nova and Zimmermann are passed up.