KC Royals Free Agent Hunt: Look to Texas for help?

(Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images) /
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The 2022 season generated close parallels between the KC Royals and Texas. Improvement seemed unavoidable for both teams, but avoid it they did—the Royals went 65-97 and finished last in the American League Central, the Rangers finished next to last in the West at 68-94.

Bad pitching plagued both clubs. Both fired their presidents of baseball operations before the season ended: Texas let Jon Daniels go in August and Kansas City dismissed Dayton Moore in September.

And the clubs’ managers and pitching coaches are gone. Skipper Chris Woodward got the axe in Arlington before Daniels, the Rangers parted ways with co-pitching coaches Doug Mathis and Brendan Sagara the day after the season ended, and the Royals fired Mike Matheny and Cal Eldred hours after losing their final game of the season.

Both franchises, however, are set to return the bulk of their respective rosters in 2023. Kansas City has only one free agent, Zack Greinke, and the Rangers have six after Martín Pérez recently took the team up on its Qualifying Offer.

Can the Royals look to any of those six Ranger free agents for help?

The KC Royals won’t get a shot at signing Texas’ best free agent starter.

Pérez was, until he accepted the Rangers’ QO, a pitcher Kansas City could have used. He’s coming off the best of his 11 big league seasons in 2022—his 12-8, 2.89 ERA effort and 196.1 innings pitched paced Texas’ staff. Pérez would have been a nice addition to KC’s rotation.

That’s not the case with Dallas Keuchel, another veteran hurler. After Keuchel gave up 14 runs in 10 innings, the Rangers became the third club to release him in 2022 (the White Sox and Arizona previously cut him loose). Keuchel finished his three-team season 2-7 and yielded 47 runs (42 earned) in 42 innings. He’s a pitcher to whom the Royals should give no thought.

Simply because they have no need for more catchers with Salvador Perez, MJ Melendez and Freddy Fermin already on the 40-man roster, the Royals also shouldn’t consider backstop Kevin Plawecki.

But there might be help among the other Texas free agents.