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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Lucas Giolito is the high-ceiling move that Kansas City could flip at the trade deadline.

Lucas Giolito appeared to be a top-tier talent in the free-agent market last year. However, following a disappointing 2023 season, the right-handed pitcher is currently struggling and needs to turn things around. Is it possible that a low-pressure, high-paying situation in Kansas City could help him get back on track?

Giolito is another former AL Central foe, spending seven seasons with the White Sox and part of 2023 with the Guardians. His journey from Chicago to Cleveland was windy, one that saw him fall from a top trade target to the waivers. He was a solid second to ace Dylan Cease in Chicago, but the team was far from contending this summer. They offloaded the pending free agent to the Los Angeles Angels, where CBS Sports' R.J. Anderson called Giolito "the best player who will be dealt this deadline." Giolito had a 3.79 ERA at that point, with 21 starts and a 3.12 K/BB ratio.

The Angels signaled they were all-in before Shohei Ohtani hit free agency, but Giolito went down in flames. He made six starts for the Angels, sporting a 6.89 ERA and 1.469 WHIP in that span. With Los Angeles out of the playoff picture, they placed Giolito on waivers. The Guardians picked him up, and Giolito made six more starts for Cleveland. His time there was even worse, as he posted a 7.04 ERA and 1.5 WHIP for the Guardians.

At 29 years old, Giolito is at an interesting career juncture. He can either settle for a diminished contract, but with multiple years of commitment, or opt for a one-year "prove it" deal to regain value. He still has value, averaging 31 starts and 175 innings pitched in the past three seasons. Surrendering home runs is his Achilles heel, so joining a team with a pitcher-friendly home park makes sense. Could Kauffman be that haven for Giolito to regain value?

Another factor is does Giolito wants to hitch his wagon to a single contender. The Royals are likely to be sellers once again next summer, where they could send Giolito to any team. That flexibility could benefit Giolito if the Royals want to work with him and his representation. Just a thought.