A righthanded starter might be able to help the KC Royals’ rotation.
No Kansas City need is more pressing than pitching, and no pitching need is more pressing than improving a weak rotation. The Royals starters had the worst ERA in the American League, and the fourth worst in the majors, last season and three starters—Brad Keller (14), Daniel Lynch (13), Kris Bubic (13) and Jonathan Heasley (10) lost at least 10 games.
But if KC looks to Baltimore’s free agents for rotation help, its search won’t take long. Jordan Lyles is the only pitcher in the group.
Last season was Lyles’ 12th in the majors and he’d pitched for Colorado, Houston, Texas, San Diego, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh before signing a free agent deal with the O’s last March. He went 12-11 with a 4.42 ERA, led Baltimore in innings pitched (179, more than any Royal) and strikeouts (144), and his 12 wins also paced the O’s and were two better than Brady Singer’s KC-leading 10.
Baltimore, however, declined Lyles’ $11 million 2023 option.
Why? Probably because the O’s deemed $11 million too lofty a price for a hurler with a 66-90 career record. But that same record might hold Lyles’ market down and make him affordable to the Royals—he made $7 million in 2022 and, coming off only the fourth winning season of his dozen-year career, he might not command much more than that.
Whether Kansas City wants him is the question. With the potential to give the Royals a year or two of innings-eating work, Lyles could help bridge the gap until the club further develops its young but potentially good starters.