KC Royals: 4 realistic targets for an innings-eating starter

The KC Royals are reportedly wanting notable improvements in the pitching staff. How can they achieve that via free agency?
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As MLB's Winter Meetings begin this week, KC Royals general manager J.J. Picollo said they are focused on "addressing the pitching" issues remaining. The team can take many different routes to fix inarguably their biggest weaknesses ahead of Opening Day. Many options remain, but MLB.com's Anne Rogers gave more insight into how the Royals will attack their pitching woes.

"The priority for the Royals is starting pitching, and they are willing to trade for a controllable starter or commit dollars in free agency for one. They’re looking for not only a pitcher who can give them innings, but also a No. 1 or No. 2 who can help solidify the rotation. "

Anne Rogers, MLB.com

Free agency still boasts some elite starting pitching options, such as Jordan Montgomery or Blake Snell. There is a free-agency tier that feels laughable to put the Royals in contention for any top talent. This fanbase is very pessimistic about Kansas City making a splash move, and rightfully so. The most communication the fanbase has heard regarding the Royals is connected back to the stadium saga, rather than improving the on-field product.

The KC Royals need to rejuvenate their team and fanbase this offseason.

Back to the matter at hand. The Royals signed Jordan Lyles last offseason with hopes of him being a veteran innings eater, landing in the middle of the rotation. That did not go to plan, but Lyles still led the team in innings pitched and his 177 2/3 innings ranked 30th among MLB pitchers. His 1.244 WHIP was respectable, but everyone will remember his 6-17 record and 6.28 ERA.

The Royals should protect their bullpen and younger starters by targeting a veteran. If the Royals prioritize a player's track record of going deep into games, here are some names that come to mind.

Adam Plutko is abroad, but the Royals could bring him back stateside.

Let's get this one out of the way. If fans recognize the name Adam Plutko, it is likely from his five-year run with the Cleveland Guardians and Baltimore Orioles. He left MLB after the 2021 season but has had two great seasons with the LG Twins. He made 21 starts this past season for the KBO champions with an 11-3 record, 2.41 ERA, and 1.184 WHIP.

The KBO is hardly equal to MLB competition, but he still averaged nearly six innings per start. He also averaged a 2.3 BB/9 and nearly stuck out (101) as many batters as hits he allowed (115). He was hardly dominant in the bullpen or as a starter, but Pluko is stretched out as a starter coming from a winning team. These players coming back from the KBO are usually available on the cheap, which is right up the Royals' alley.

NY Post columnist Jon Heyman reported that Plutko is eyeing an MLB return. That report also coincides with a soured relationship between Plutko and LG fans following the 2023 season. He has proven himself abroad. The Royals have a need and frugalness to consider a player like Plutko.