KC Royals add 200-game starting pitcher on minor-league deal

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Starting pitchers are dropping left and right this season, with elbow injuries prematurely ending their seasons. Top starters like the Atlanta Braves' Spencer Strider and the Cleveland Guardians' Shane Bieber could be done for the season and undergo season-ending surgery. No MLB rotation will have the same five guys start every game, and that places a premium on emergency options. The KC Royals added one such option to the fold by signing pitcher Zach Davies to a minor-league contract.

The KC Royals gain experienced, low-cost pitching option in Zach Davies

The team annoucned the deal Monday afternoon on their social media channels.

Davies has started all of his 200 appearances dating back to 2015, totaling 1,048 1/3 innings in that span. The 31-year-old righty spent spring training with the Washington Nationals but struggled from the mound. He allowed 14 earned runs in four starts, recording an ugly 1.929 WHIP. Obviously, not every player will have a stellar spring, but a poor showing ended the veteran's Washington tenure early.

He will not immediately push for a Royals rotational spot, considering how hot the rotation has been to start the season. But Boras Corporation's client brings good experience and a worst-case option for a spot start. Not many available free agents have the experience Davies does. He averages 5 1/3 innings per start across his nine-season career, starting at least 27 games five different times.

Davies did have a rough 2023 showing with the National League Champion Arizona Diamondbacks. He posted a terrible 7.00 ERA across 18 starts and 82 1/3 innings, plus a career-worst 1.664 WHIP. Davies isn't going to overpower the competition, but he boasts a vast pitching arsenal and has experienced some really bad luck on balls in play. His 4.58 FIP was his best since 2020, so there is still a back-end rotation piece in there somewhere. He won't replace Alec Marsh anytime soon, but it is a long season ahead.

Davies can start his climb back to the majors with the Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers. They open up a six-game set against the Gwinnett Stripers on Tuesday in Werner Park. The starters for April 12 and 13 are still undecided, so Davies may start one of those two games in the next week.

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