Can the KC Royals find pitching help on Chicago's North Side?
Almost two full months have passed since this winter's free agent and trade markets opened and, not unpredictably, the KC Royals haven't done anything anyone can say is transformative.
Yes, the club has signed major league free agent pitchers Ryan Yarbrough, Jordan Lyles, Mike Mayers and Nic Wittgren, but alone or together, those transactions aren't likely to greatly improve one of the worst pitching staffs in the big leagues. And the minor leaguers are bets on the future, not the present.
So perhaps the news that general manager J.J. Picollo may have designs on adding more new pitching to the Royal mix should come as no surprise. The Kansas City Star's Lynn Worthy reports Picollo as saying this about that:
"I think we have to still explore (adding to the rotation)," Picollo said. "Because we just don't know how it's going to end up throughout the offseason, regardless of who the pitcher is. So if there's an opportunity for us to get deeper and get better, we can't close the door right now."
The cream of the free agent pitching crop is already spoken for, so who Picollo might target remains to be seen. Could three hurlers late of the Chicago Cubs be possibilities?
A former member of the KC Royals is one of three available Cub free agents.
Alec Mills started his professional career with Kansas City after the club chose him in the 22nd round of the 2012 amateur draft. His major league debut in 2016 was brief and unimpressive: he pitched once in May and twice in September out of the KC bullpen and gave up five runs in 3.1 innings. The Royals traded him to the Cubs that winter.
Mills, 31 and a righthander, threw a 2020 no-hitter against Milwaukee; other than that gem, however, his Chicago years have been mundane. He's 12-14 with a 4.84 ERA as a Cub and, due in no small part to missing most of the campaign with lower back and right quad injuries, was 0-1, 9.68 last season.
Mills' pedestrian record and recent injury history makes him a pitcher the Royals don't need to pursue. But what about Chicago's other two free agent hurlers?