Welcome back to Kings of Kauffman’s continuing series analyzing how the major league free agent market might impact the KC Royals. Today we focus on Cincinnati’s free agents.
Together with their signing of Taylor Clarke just before the MLB lockout started, Thursday’s news that the KC Royals just brought Arodys Vizcaíno aboard suggests they might be done searching for ways to bolster next season’s bullpen. Both hurlers are experienced big league relievers who clearly figure in the club’s plans.
But if the Royals are still looking for ways to strengthen their relief corps, they can look past Cincinnati’s free agents. Mychal Graves and Brad Brach are the two relievers in that small group, but shouldn’t be Royal targets.
An infielder before switching to the mound in his fourth minor league season, Givens is a side-arming righthander with a 25-20, 3.41 ERA, seven-season major league record. He also averages over 10 strikeouts per nine innings and throws a fastball hovering around 95 mph.
His control, though, is cause for concern. Givens walked almost five batters per nine innings in 2021, his best full season BB9 (2.9) came in 2017, and it hasn’t been below 4.0 since 2019. The Royals don’t need to add control concerns to those they already have.
Brach, who the Royals signed as a free agent last February, never used in a major league game, and DFA’d in April, also has control issues. He issued 18 walks in 30 innings last season, 14 in 12.1 in 2020, and averaged over five per nine innings in 2019. Although he owns a respectable 11-year 38-29 record with 34 saves and a 3.55 ERA, he’ll be 36 in April, which might not mesh with Kansas City’s need to build a bullpen good for several years.
Could any other Cincinnati free agents help the KC Royals next season?
The answer to this question is an unqualified “Yes”…if Kansas City can find a way to lure star outfielder Nick Castellanos to Kauffman Stadium. We raised that possibility here recently, but the chances of Castellanos becoming a Royal are remote at best. Don’t look for him on the Royals’ Opening Day roster for next, or any other, season.
The fact veteran Asdrúbal Cabrera is an infielder means the Royals shouldn’t pursue him. He’s a two-time All-Star with some, albeit diminishing, power, and can play every infield position. But Kansas City already has Carlos Santana (with Nick Pratto knocking loudly on his door), Whit Merrifield, Nicky Lopez, Adalberto Mondesi and Bobby Witt Jr., whose big league debut is almost certain to occur Opening Day, or shortly thereafter at the latest. There just isn’t room for Cabrera.
The Royals should be looking for major league-ready help when the MLB lockout ends, but probably won’t find any among Cincinnati’s small pool of free agents.