KC Royals: Is Baltimore’s free agent cupboard bare?
Welcome back to Kings of Kauffman’s continuing series analyzing the major league free agent market. Over the next few weeks, our writers will scrutinize each club’s free agents and project who might, or might not, fit the needs of the KC Royals. Today, we look at the Orioles’ free agents.
For the KC Royals, trying to find help among Baltimore’s nine free agents will be like searching for diamonds in the roughest of roughs. Only the pandemic-shortened 60 game 2020 season probably saved the Orioles from losing over 100 games for four straight seasons—they lost 110 this year, 108 in 2019, and 115 in 2018.
The Baltimore franchise proves that bad teams often beget bad teams. The club is woefully short on talent and results, which naturally suggests the same is true of its free agents.
And that may be the case. Unless Kansas City wants to take another look at two former Royal pitchers (more on that later), there isn’t much for the club to consider.
Take pitcher Fernando Abad, for example. That Abad loses far more than he wins makes him a curiosity among big league relievers, men paid to hold leads or keep their teams close; indeed, the worst thing relievers can do is blow games. But Abad is 8-29 in 400 games across a 10-year, seven-team career, a record so lopsidedly questionable that it renders the reasons underlying his long major league tenure somewhat mysterious.
Then take César Valdez, who at 36 and with only three big league saves to his name entering the season, improbably became the O’s closer early in the year. He had eight saves by May 10 but imploded from there—he didn’t save another game, suffered an 8.04 ERA the rest of the way, was outrighted to Triple-A the last week of September, and elected free agency the day after the campaign ended.
Excluding late-inning men Scott Barlow and Josh Staumont, Kansas City’s bullpen is shaky enough without Abad or Valdez.
Then there are the five players—pitchers Thomas Eshelman, Marcos Diplán and Konner Wade, catcher Austin Wynns, and infielder Pat Valaika—who declined October outrights and became free agents. None should interest the Royals.
So, who does that leave Kansas City to consider? Two former Royals, but that isn’t saying much.
Will the KC Royals think at all about pursuing Conner Greene or Matt Harvey?
Whether Kansas City will give ex-Royals Conner Greene or Matt Harvey an offseason look is one thing. Whether they should is another.
Greene’s claim to former Royal status stems from the one season he spent in the organization. He went a combined 4-9, 5.13 between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha in 2019, missed with most minor leaguers the entire 2020 season, and found himself released by KC in November.
He caught on with Baltimore and made his big league debut with the Orioles this season but, after going 1-3, 7.71 in 22 appearances, was placed on waivers and claimed by the Dodgers, for whom he pitched twice before landing on waivers again and being reclaimed by Baltimore. The O’s outrighted him Nov. 3 and he elected free agency the next day.
Control problems have plagued Greene throughout his eight-year professional career. That, and his poor 2021 showing, shouldn’t commend him to the Royals.
Kansas City should also pass on Harvey. Once a standout starter for the Mets who successfully and infamously lobbied manager Terry Collins to let him pitch the ninth inning in Game 5 of the 2015 World Series against the KC Royals, which led to Kansas City tying the game and eventually winning it and the Series, Harvey fell on injuries and hard times beginning in 2016. He hasn’t had a winning season since 2015, went 0-3 with an 11.57 ERA in seven games with the Royals in 2020, and was 6-14, 6.27 for Baltimore this year.
Harvey’s best years are well behind him. Kansas City shouldn’t consider a reunion.
The KC Royals can use a bit of help. They won’t find it in Baltimore.