KC Royals: Will this free agent prediction be right?

(Mandatory Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mandatory Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports) /

If the name Tyler Anderson doesn’t ring a bell, try this. Think back to a Pittsburgh evening early last season, then a late August afternoon in Seattle when Anderson, first with the Pirates and then with Seattle, pitched his only two games against the KC Royals in a six-year career.

The lefthanded Pirate starter held the Royals in check for six innings April 27 before giving way to a reliever in the seventh. He struck out five and surrendered only a run, but didn’t earn a decision.

Things were different Aug. 28 when, starting for the Mariners, to whom he’d been traded in July after a deal Pittsburgh seemingly had with Philadelphia collapsed, he gave up a first-inning leadoff home run to Whit Merrifield and later the ninth of 12 homers Salvador Perez slammed in August. Three of Kansas City’s four runs, and the Mariners’ 4-2 loss to the Royals, were charged to Anderson.

Now, at least one major prognosticator predicts Tyler Anderson will become a Royal when the MLB lockout ends. Revising its original free agent projections, Sports Illustrated recently predicted Anderson, now a free agent trapped in the lockout’s transaction freeze, will sign with Kansas City.

Tyler Anderson joining the KC Royals is conceivable, but might not be wise.

Kansas City could use another experienced starter, so understanding SI’s prediction isn’t difficult. His six years in the majors are more than any other KC starter except Mike Minor and he’s pitched in two postseasons (2017 and 2018 with Colorado). His control is good (2.7 career BB9).

But if they’re considering Anderson, the Royals need to look beyond experience. In none of his six big league campaigns has he posted a winning record—6-6 with the Rockies in 2017 is the closest he’s come to .500, and he’s 29-38 overall.

Anderson’s 3.54 ERA as a rookie in 2016 remains the only time he’s been under 4.00, a career result not fair to blame entirely on pitching four seasons at hitter-friendly Coors Field. He had a 4.37 ERA with the Giants in 2020, and a combined 4.53 between Pittsburgh and Seattle last season, a mark only slightly better than his 4.69 Colorado average.

He also gave up nine runs twice in 2021.

And Anderson’s injury history might give Kansas City pause. He’s experienced knee inflammation and surgery; an elbow stress fracture nagged him in 2013, 2014 and 2015, and even forced him out of action for the entire 2015 campaign.

So it is Anderson might not be as attractive to the Royals as Sports Illustrated suggests. The Royals can do better, and probably will if they pursue a free agent starter when the transaction freeze lifts.

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Will Tyler Anderson become a Royal? Time will tell.