Are the other Cleveland free agent relievers viable candidates for the Royals?
Think back to the 2015 American League Division Series, a tense five-game battle pitting Kansas City against Houston. Oliver Pérez, then an Astro, faced and retired one hitter in Houston’s 5-2 Game 1 win, then helped the Royals to a crucial Game 2 victory.
With his club leading 4-2 in the fifth inning of the latter contest, Pérez relieved starter Scott Kazmir after Kazmir gave up a one-out double to Lorenzo Cain. Pérez had Eric Hosmer—that batter he got out the night before—down in the count, but Hosmer singled to score Cain. Pérez then loaded the bases by giving up a single to Kendrys Morales and walking Mike Moustakas; Josh Fields relieved Pérez but allowed Salvador Perez a run-scoring single to tie the game 4-4. The Royals eventually won the game and the ALDS.
Pérez didn’t pitch in that series again. His performance wasn’t too surprising considering the 0-3, 6.75 2015 Houston record he posted after arriving in a trade with Arizona.
He pitched 114 times with a 4.81 ERA for Washington over the next two years, then went to Cleveland as a free agent in June 2018 and stayed until clearing waivers and becoming a free agent after the club DFA’d him last April.
Pérez was 4-7 with a good 2.57 ERA for Cleveland. Does that mean Kansas City should look him up?
No. What makes Pérez less viable for the Royals than Shaw and Parker is his age. He turns 41 in August, making him a one-year bet at best.
At 30, Nick Wittgren is the youngest of the Guardians’ four free agent relievers, which also makes him the least experienced. The righty is 18-15, 3.75 in six seasons (three with Miami and three with Cleveland), and has good control (2.5 BB9), but the Royals really don’t need a pitcher who went 2-9, 5.05 in 60 games last season.
(Catcher Wilson Ramos is Cleveland’s other free agent, but another backstop is something the Royals don’t need).
The Royals need to shore up their bullpen a bit, but should pass on Cleveland’s free agent relievers.