The three curveball-first starters the KC Royals need to target

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Any aggressiveness from the KC Royals in free agency seems like a hopeless, well, hope. The Royals are not known for their aggression in the free agent market, nor for a record of adding payroll. Owner John Sherman and general manager J.J. Picollo have a chance to change that this offseason though. The two had their first offseason together in 2022, but coaching changes likely hindered their effectiveness. No such problems exist this year, providing a rare do-over. The pitching coaching staff specifically has remained intact despite underperformance at the MLB level.

The KC Royals have no trouble with the curve. The curveball, that is.

I looked at what trait the Royals staff could be looking for this offseason, namely in who they add for a starting pitcher. There are several other factors, such as ground-ball rate or WHIP, that should affect which pitchers fit best for multiple appearances in Kauffman Stadium. But it seems Kansas City has a type. We all do, don't we? Instead of tall, dark, and sociopathic, the Royals lean towards pitchers with productive curveballs or pitchers who throw them a ton.

The fact is, the Royals need to improve their pitching performance. Can that happen naturally, between progression and minor-league promotions? Sure, of course. However, the best teams do not rely solely upon that outcome. Free agency usually provides some certainty, even if it is not the ultimate solution, i.e., the 2023 New York Mets.

The Royals are young entering 2024 and more experience could do the team wonders. That experience could further help pitchers like Cole Ragans, Brady Singer, and other young pitchers on the Royals' staff. Royals fans are well aware that Zack Greinke's elder statesman presence is impossible to replace, but some talented veterans would still do wonders. If the team does not want to pursue trade options, who are the free agents that fit the Royals' bill?