Rumbling through Kansas City recently, and gaining steam in the last couple of days, have been rumors that the pitching-starved KC Royals had veteran Seth Lugo in their sights. Pursuing Lugo, a righthander with eight years of big league experience, seemed a logical thing for general manager JJ. Picollo to do — because Lugo can start and relieve, Kansas City could plug him into the rotation or bullpen.
But chasing and catching are two different things, and the Royals haven't captured much in the way of free agent pitching help in recent years. They've twice signed Zack Greinke to one-year deals, but he's 6-24 over those two seasons, and last winter's acquisition of Jordan Lyles is, after he led the majors in losses last season, so far a bust.
And thinking Lugo coming to Kansas City as anything other than a visiting team's pitcher seemed a bit of a stretch.
Now, though, it appears thinking of Lugo as a Royal wasn't much of a stretch after all — he should soon be a member of the club. Reports of his imminent signing began bubbling up at mid-afternoon Tuesday; leading the way, and certainly close to the situation, was MLB.com Royals beat writer Anne Rogers, who reported the parties were "finalizing" a deal. Soon after that, MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reported Lugo is joining the Royals on a three-season contract worth $45 million.
What does Seth Lugo bring to the Royals?
Lugo will arrive in Kansas City with a well-earned reputation as a solid starter and reliever who can be suitably stingy with runs. His career ERA is 3.57 (115 ERA+), and he's had three sub-3.00 ERA seasons. He pitched most recently for San Diego, where he was 8-7, 3.57 in 26 starts in 2023.
Last season also marked his return to starting after pitching primarily out of the bullpen for five straight campaigns. He's 23-17, 4.01 in 64 career starts, and 17-14, 2.91 in 237 relief appearances.
So, where will manager Matt Quatraro deploy Lugo? Because the Royals likely aren't spending $45 million on a reliever, and just signed Will Smith and previously acquired Nick Anderson from Atlanta, expect Lugo to join and bolster Quatraro's thin starting rotation.
The KC Royals also appear to be adding a bullpen piece
Lugo isn't the only pitcher apparently headed for Kauffman Stadium. After news of Lugo's deal broke, Rogers reported that the Royals and veteran reliever Chris Stratton were also close to a deal, and Feinsand put it at $3.5 million for one year with a player option for an additional season.
Stratton is 37-24 with a 4.43 ERA and 12 saves across eight major league campaigns. He's pitched for five big league teams and, although he's started 42 times, is sure to work out of the bullpen next season.
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