The KC Royals shouldn't pursue Brad Keller after he becomes a free agent
Although he's been a Royal since 2018, cutting ties with Brad Keller should be easy. He is, after all, not invaluable or untouchable—instead, he's the most unsolvable of the Royals' many pitching mysteries, the hurler who owns a pair of club Pitcher of the Year awards but can't put together two consecutive consistent seasons.
Splitting time between the rotation and bullpen in 2019, Keller went 9-6 with a 3.08 ERA to win his first Bruce Rice Pitcher of the Year award, then slumped to 7-14, 4.19 in 2019 before repeating as the Pitcher of the Year with a 5-3, 2.47 effort in the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign.
But then came two straight unsightly Keller seasons, 8-12, 5.39 in 2021 and 6-14, 5.09 last year. And he was 3-4, 4.36 this season, and had been battered for 11 runs in his last 13 innings, before shoulder issues forced him to the Injured List in mid-May. Keller then spent nearly the maximum-allowed 30 days on a minor league rehab assignment, giving up 17 runs in nine innings, before the Royals called him back to Kansas City without activating him.
Whether he returns to action this season remains to be seen. Injury-shortened campaigns aren't new to Keller: arm fatigue caused the Royals to shut him down in late August of the 2019 season, and a right lat issue meant he didn't pitch past August in 2021.
He also becomes a free agent after the World Series. Given his erratic performance and unfortunate late-season injury history, he's someone Kansas City shouldn't pursue.