KC Royals Free Agent Hunt: St. Louis has pitching

(Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Baseball’s offseason trade and free agent markets haven’t produced any new players for the KC Royals, but the game’s winter is young and plenty of time remains for the club to find the additional starting pitcher and righthanded bat it’s likely seeking.

The Royals might find at least one of those commodities just down Interstate 70. There’s a good starter among the St. Louis Cardinals’ six free agents, and maybe a righty bat and some bullpen help to boot.

Who should, and who shouldn’t, Kansas City consider?

An old friend is among the St. Louis free agents the KC Royals can pass on.

Righthanded starter Aaron Brooks used to figure in Kansas City’s plans. Picked by the Royals in the ninth round of the 2011 amateur draft, Brooks quickly made it to The K just three seasons later. That, however, is where his good Royal luck ended—hammered for 13 earned runs in 2.2 innings in 2014 and touched for three in 4.1 frames in 2015, Brooks found himself shipped to Oakland with Sean Manaea in the ’15 trade deadline deal that brought Ben Zobrist to KC.

Brooks went 5-7 with a 5.71 ERA in parts of three Oakland seasons and 4-5, 6.18 in part of another in Baltimore. He headed for Korea in 2021 and found success with the KBO’s KIA Tigers, going 14-9, 2.79 over two seasons.

Unfortunately, the former Royal found in 2022 with St. Louis none of the success he enjoyed overseas. He gave up eight earned runs in the 9.1 innings he worked for the Cards and had a 5.56 ERA in 15 games at Triple-A Memphis. Those numbers alone are sufficient to exclude him from the Royals’ offseason wish list.

Kansas City won’t find a new righthanded bat among the Cardinal free agents. Corey Dickerson, a career .281 hitter and primarily a left fielder who’s dabbled in center and right during his 10 years in the majors, hasn’t homered more than 10 times in a season since 2019 and, heading for his age-34 season, isn’t a good fit for a club with good young outfielders.

The Royals also shouldn’t consider two relievers. Lefty T.J. McFarland had a nice 2021 season for the Cards (4-1, 2.56 in 38 games), but surrendered 24 earned runs in 32.2 innings this season. Righty Nick Wittgren was 1-0 in 29 games for the Cards in 2022, but had a 5.90 ERA after posting 5.05 with Cleveland in 2021; the Cards released him in August.

Can any Cardinal free agents help the Royals?