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

Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/GettyImages
4 of 4

Blake Snell is the dream Royals target.

Do fans want the Royals move of their dreams? Do they want the franchise to set a new Royals free-agent contract record? Do they want an unequivocal signal that this front office is serious about winning? If the answer is yes to all those questions, signing Blake Snell is the ultimate move.

Kansas City's own Terez Paylor once said "the contract year is undefeated" and Snell proved that in 2023. He has not been perfect across his eight MLB seasons, but when he is on he is on. He already has two Cy Young Awards, one with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2018 and another last season with the San Diego Padres. His 2.25 ERA led all NL pitchers in 2023, while he struck out 31.5% of opposing batters. The Padres famously missed the playoffs last season, but Snell had another elite season ahead of free agency.

Readers may wonder how Snell fits in with this possible curveball-centric Royals approach. Well, Snell casually has the second-most valuable curveball in all of MLB since 2019, according to Baseball Savant. Granted, Atlanta Braves pitcher Charlie Morton holds the crown for the most consistently valuable curveball in that span, looking at the pitch's run value. But, Snell's curveball ranked elite in 2023 and his overall offspeed offering ranked in the 100th percentile, thanks to the curve, changeup, and slider.

When Snell is on the mound, he looks like one of baseball's best. He expects to be paid as such, as evidenced by his declining a $20.25 million qualifying offer from the Padres. Snell will be 31 years old next opening Day, setting him up for one more long-term deal at least. He is far from a perfect free agent, with workload concerns and big swings on overall performance. But he has a case to be the best remaining pitcher on the free agent market.

The Royals signing Snell would be shocking to baseball as a whole. After the Cardinals signed former Minnesota Twins pitcher Sonny Gray to a three-year deal worth $25 million annually, that only raised Snell's upcoming payday. Sherman and company would have to open up the pocketbooks in a big way to even catch Snell's attention. But, let a writer drea