Why the KC Royals won’t find any help in The Bronx

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KC Royals, Corey Kluber
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Two veteran pitchers’ health & age issues should give the KC Royals pause.

At first blush, Corey Kluber should interest Kansas City. The two-time American League Cy Young Award winner (2014 and 2017) made his name in Cleveland by winning 20 games once and 18 three times. He has 18 complete games and eight shutouts in an era when six-inning starters draw raves; his 3.19 11-year ERA affirms his stinginess on the mound.

And he threw a no-hitter this season.

Nevertheless, the Royals should pass on Kluber. He gave the Yankees a decent 5-3, 3.83 season with a no-no to boot, factors he’ll cite to extract from them, or another club, more than the $11 million he earned in 2021. Kluber may require more to land than Kansas City is willing to or should pay, especially for a starter who’ll turn 36 in April.

Then there’s his health. A right shoulder sprain kept Kluber on the Injured List from late May until late August; opponents slashed .308/.375/.467, and he gave up 16 runs in 26.2 innings over the six games he started after he returned. He was 4-3, 3.04 before going on the IL. Whether the injury drove those former numbers remains to be seen.

Darren O’Day’s case is similar. Day, 39, spent almost all of May and June on the IL with a rotator cuff issue before a hamstring injury forced him back to the List in early July, required surgery, and cost him the rest of the 2021 campaign. He can be an excellent reliever—he’s 40-19, 2.53 in 616 relief appearances since breaking in with the Angels in 2008—but the KC Royals should avoid adding a 39-year old to the bullpen, especially one with his recent injuries.