The Royals need some bullpen help, but this lefty reliever probably isn’t it.
Jake Diekman came to Kansas City as a free agent almost exactly three years ago (Feb. 13, 2019, to be precise), a seven-year major league veteran searching for a team needing the durable, strikeout, left-handed reliever he was. Averaging 52 innings a season with a stellar 11.0 SO9, Diekman seemingly brought reliability to a Royals bullpen short on that commodity.
What he also brought to KC was the considerable baggage of control problems. (More on that momentarily).
The Royals’ return on their one-year, $2.25 million deal with Diekman wasn’t great. Although he struck out 63 in 41.2 innings over 48 appearances, he went 0-6 with a 4.75 ERA before the club dispatched him to Oakland in July for two minor leaguers.
He also issued 23 walks in those 41.2 innings, then 16 in 20.1 frames for the A’s to finish with a 5.7 BB9; he owns a 5.5 BB9 since going to the Athletics. And his big league BB9 is an unsightly 5.0.
Therein lies the Diekman rub. His is a career tainted by too many walks. And too many walks is something the Royals’ bullpen, which allowed the fifth most bases on balls in the American League last season, simply can’t afford.
For that reason alone, Kansas City should look elsewhere for a lefty reliever.
They might tempt Kansas City, but the club should refrain from pursuing former Royals Ian Kennedy, Jorge Soler and Jake Diekman when the MLB lockout ends.