Why this star free agent pitcher won't join the KC Royals

A Cubs stalwart is suddenly on the open market.
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

It's no news that after losing 106 games in 2023, the KC Royals must add a new, reliable, proven major league pitcher to their woeful starting rotation. Two would be better. Incumbent upon general manager J.J. Picollo is to make the right move or moves to improve the rota for manager Matt Quatraro.

But don't expect Picollo to land one of the latest hurlers to join the free agent ranks. The chances of Marcus Stroman, the talented righthander who reportedly opted out of his contract with the Cubs over the weekend, to be a Royal when the 2024 season opens in late March.

It's not going to happen.

All-Star starter Marcus Stroman isn't coming to Kansas City

Stroman, a two-time American League All-Star with a 77-76, 3.65 ERA career record, is no stranger to KC fans: as a Blue Jay he started against and beat the Royals in Game 3 of the 2015 American League Championship Series, and is 3-1 against them over his nine-year major league career. But he just isn't a good candidate for Kansas City's rotation.


First among the reasons is money — the Royals aren't going to shell out what Stroman will likely want and probably get. That he declined a player option that guaranteed him $21 million for 2024 strongly suggests he's seeking a far more lucrative deal than Picollo and principal owner John Sherman will have the financial taste to fund.

Then there's the second half of his 2023 campaign. It was terrible. After going 9-6, 2.96 and throwing a complete game in 19 pre-All-Star Break starts, he slumped to 1-3, 8.63 the rest of the way. How much hip and rib issues had to do with his post-Break decline is, without more details about both, tough to determine, but the glaring reversal of fortune Stroman suffered should give the Royals pause, and a reason to carefully scrutinize his medicals if he interests them.

Stroman is certainly a temptation, and his knack for inducing grounders from opposing hitters (career 57.9% GB rate) would please the Royals and their excellent infielders. But he probably yearns to join a team with realistic World Series chances, not a 106-loss club like Kansas City that won't contend without the serious and expensive rotation overhaul it needs but probably won't make in one baseball winter fell swoop.

Don't, then, look for Stroman in a Royals uniform next season.

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