Four KC Royals pitchers pose the most difficult tender/non-tender decisions.
Considering the shaky status of Kansas City’s pitching staff, it isn’t surprising four hurlers present Kansas City with hard choices.
Josh Staumont represents perhaps the most difficult decision. The fifth-year righty served as closer Scott Barlow’s setup man for much of the season but, after going 2-1, 3.67 in the first half, went 1-2 with a 2.531 WHIP and 13.50 ERA after the All-Star Break. He also missed two weeks with a neck strain and didn’t pitch again after right biceps tendinitis forced him to the Injured List in late August.
All that should give the Royals pause; Staumont may no longer be the setup man they want him to be. His second half numbers aren’t easy to dismiss, and whether he can return to form from tendinitis remains to be seen.
Can his track record save him? After an unremarkable (0-0, 3.72) 16-game big league debut in 2019, he was 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA in 2020 and 4-3, 2.88 with five saves in 2021. And although he fights control at times, he owns career 10.13 K/9 and 26.1 K% marks.
In what could be a closer call than many might think, the Royals will probably tender Staumont.
Taylor Clarke went 3-1, 4.04 after KC signed him in December, but suffered two oblique strains in the second half of the campaign, the last coming just days after he returned from the first. That a pair of oblique strains were the primary causes of Adalberto Mondesi missing most of the 2021 season might render bringing Clarke back questionable.
Amir Garrett brought a fiery demeanor to the Royals, who acquired him by trading Mike Minor to the Reds, but his 4.96 ERA was high for a reliever and he walks too many batters (6.35 BB/9).
Given its shortage of relievers, look for the club to tender Clarke and Garrett.
Then there’s Kris Bubic, too infrequently the kind of pitcher the Royals expected when they made him the 40th overall selection in the 2018 draft. Bearing an already troubling 7-13 record before this season began, he went 3-13, 5.58, hardly the kind of effort meriting a full-time major league rotation spot.
But because the Royals are frighteningly short on reliable starters, they’ll probably give Bubic another year.