Put pressure on pitchers by adding quality competition.
King Solomon, the writer of Proverbs in the Christian bible, wrote a phrase translated today as "iron sharpens iron." Those three words' meaning has changed over the years, but I think of it like how a chef sharpens a knife. They don't use wood or a sponge; they use a whetstone or sharpening steel. Similarly, hard materials hone the knife into a stronger and more precise tool.
All that to say is this: adding quality pitching options to the rotation and bullpen should make the existing pitchers better. If not, then they did not belong in the first place.
The Royals went into 2023 still leaning on their young group of pitchers, hoping for them to take the next step. That still has not happened. Kris Bubic and Daniel Lynch IV missed time with injuries, Brady Singer regressed from his promising 2022, and other internal options provided little optimism. If Kansas City wants to improve the major-league product now, they need to identify those solid players on the open market.
Kansas City has been linked to several top pitchers this offseason, including Rodríguez and Sonny Gray. Both of those players would fit the bill, but quality options remain. The Royals pursuing those players is a pleasant surprise, but bringing one to Kansas City is the only concrete result that matters.
Those free agents would not only improve results but hopefully bring along less experienced members of the rotation. Quality players can lead by example and show existing players what they need for success in the MLB, not just get by in Kansas City. It is not a quantifiable result, but Royals fans saw this before with the James Shields addition.