The Royals have made a bundle of moves today.
In oder to protect certain farmhands from possibly being selected in December’s Rule 5 Draft, the Royals elected to designate seven players from their 40-man roster for assignment:
- Chris Volstad RHP
- Vin Mazzaro RHP
- Ryan Verdugo LHP
- Brayan Pena C
- Adam Moore C
- Clint Robinson 1B
- Derrick Robinson OF
The biggest shocker from this list is probably Brayan Pena. The catcher will be going through arbitration for the third time this winter and was likely to make upwards of $1 million. With Brett Hayes now on board, he’ll likely serve as the Royals’ backup option next season.
Ryan Verdugo was another surprise DFA given his solid season in Omaha in 2012 and the fact that he could serve any number of roles in a pitching staff.
If any of these players pass through waivers, they can still be retained by the club by being outrighted to one of the minor league clubs.
The moves cleared space on the 40-man roster for the following (including Jeremy Guthrie):
- John Lamb LHP
- Mike Montgomery LHP
- Chris Dwyer LHP
- Donnie Joseph LHP
- Justin Marks LHP
- J.C. Gutierrez RHP
It’s no surprise to see the team add Lamb, Montgomery, and Dwyer to the 40-man roster. Given their history as top 100 prospects, if left unprotected in the Rule 5 draft, all three were likely to be off the board fairly quickly.
Donnie Joseph came to Kansas City from Cincinnati as a part of the Jonathan Broxton trade in July. He’ll likely contend for a bullpen spot out of spring training, as you can never have enough left-handed pitching.
Justin Marks, part of the David DeJesus trade with the A’s, had a terrific season in the Arizona Fall League where he went 5-1 with a 2.59 ERA in 7 starts. He reached NW Arkansas this season where he was named a Texas League All-Star by going 3-5 in 17 starts with a 3.80 ERA.
At 29, J.C. Gutierrez is a journey-man at this point in his career. He does have big league experience, making 150 appearances (3 starts) with a 4.79 ERA and 152 K in 167.1 IP. At most, he could be a long-relief option for the Royals at some point in 2013.
The Royals’ offseason tires are still spinning.
Per his own Twitter account, Jeremy Guthrie announced that he and the Royals have agreed to a 3-year deal.
Jeremy Guthrie @TheRealJGuts
“3 more years in Kansas City! I couldn’t be more pleased & excited! Thanks to the Royals & all the great fans for your support.”
The terms of the contract are as follows:
3 years, $25 million
- 2013: $5 million
- 2014: $11 million
- 2015: $9 million
Guthrie’s contract breakdown is very interesting. With his payroll impact for 2013 being only $5 million, the Royals still have room to add at least one other starting pitcher – whether it be by making a trade or adding another free agent.
In 2014, where his payroll impact will be at it’s largest, Jeff Francoeur’s and possibly Ervin Santana’s contracts will be off the books.
After the Royals acquired him from the Rockies this past July, Guthrie went 5-3 with a 3.16 ERA in 14 starts and was easily the team’s most reliable starter in the second half. Guthrie has averaged around 200 innings over the past five seasons and owns a career 4.28 ERA.
Since the Royals’ 40-man roster was at capacity at the time of the deal, a corresponding move must be made. Today is the deadline for organizations to set their 40-man roster, so the Royals are likely not done making moves today. Stay tuned for updates.
The Royals need to acquire starting pitching this offseason. This is fact, not opinion. The mantra this season, as we have watched Luke Hochevar and Jonathan Sanchez get torched on the mound, is that the Royals will need to acquire two quality starting pitchers this offseason in order for this team to take the next step. For a complete list of 2013’s free agent class thus far, click here. From that list, I’ve compiled a list of who I think the Royals definitely should go after and those who they might consider.
- Jeremy Guthrie RHP (age 34, $8.2 million, career: 9 years, 54-77, 4.28 ERA, 5.5 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 1.309 WHIP, 15.7 WAR): Re-signing Guthrie has to priority no. 1 or 1a for Dayton Moore this offseason. He has been undoubtedly the team’s most consistent starter this season, going 4-3 with a 3.00 ERA, a 1.103 WHIP, and 5.8 K/9 to just 1.6 BB/9 while averaging 6 2/3 innings per start. He’s no ace, but this organization needs consistency from a pitcher who eats innings and always gives them a chance to win. Not to mention, Guthrie has said on more than one occasion that he could see himself with this team going forward. Given his age and track record, a two-year, $14-$18 million deal seems logical.
- Zack Greinke RHP (age 28, $13.5 million, career: 9 years, 90-78, 3.77 ERA, 8 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 1.246 WHIP, 29.4 WAR): Zack is a guy, almost no matter who else you have in your rotation, that every team has to pursue. He’s young, dominant, and consistant. His clubhouse manner could stand some improvement, but by now I wouldn’t expect it to change. Greinke is a small-market type of guy and still owns his apartment in downtown KC. Is a Greinke-Royals reunion possible? Yes. Likely? Probably not. But he’s the cream of the crop this offseason, so the Royals have to at least entertain the thought. He’ll likely be seeking a contract that exceeds $100 million; so unless David Glass ponies up, consider this a pipe dream.
- Shaun Marcum RHP (age 31, $7.72 million, career: 7 years, 55-36, 3.79 ERA, 7.4 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 1.225 WHIP, 12.8 WAR): Marcum is a legitimate target for the Royals this offseason. The Excelsior Springs native has been consistent throughout his 7 year career with both Toronto and Milwaukee but has stayed well under the radar as far as popularity goes. He won’t blow anybody with his fastball, which sits somewhere between 86-90 mph, but it’s his ability to locate his six different pitches, as well as his 3/4 to almost sidearm throwing slot, that allows him to be successful (four-seamer, two-seamer, cutter, changeup, slider, curve). A contract in the neighborhood of 4-5 years for $60-$75 million could and should get a deal done.
- Anibal Sanchez RHP (age 28, $8 million, career: 7 years, 47-51, 3.81 ERA, 7.6 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 1.357 WHIP, 13.3 WAR): Anibal Sanchez is one of those guys who could fall anywhere between the borderline number one to a dependable number three. His low-to-mid 90’s fastball sets up his sinker-slider combo well, allowing him to be equally effective aginst both right and left-handed hitters. On top of that, he’s averaged exactly 6 innings per start throughout his career (142 starts, 853.2 IP). He was dealt to Detroit at the trade deadline this season and has been knocked around a bit by AL lineups (10 starts: 3-6, 4.55 ERA, 1.416 WHIP leading me to believe that he may be better suited for the National League. Regardless, he’s an attractive option for GMDM to consider. He’s likely headed for a 5-7 year deal between $80-100 million.
- Brandon McCarthy RHP (age 29, $4.275 million, career: 7 years, 37-39, 4.02 ERA, 6.1 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 1.284 WHIP, 8.4 WAR): Brandon McCarthy seems to have figured out what works during his time in Oakland. During his two seasons with the A’s, he’s 17-15 in 43 starts with a 3.29 ERA, 6.3 K/9 to just 1.6 BB/9. He utilizes his two-seamer and cutter to induce more groundballs, in turn lowering his homerun percentage and walk rates. He does come with injury concern, however. He’s had a stress frature in his right shoulder blade back in 2007 and elbow inflammation in 2008 – the latter causing him to miss nearly all of the 2008 season. To add insult to injury (pun intended), McCarthy took a line drive to the head earlier this month which fractured his skull. He’s recovering well, but definitely will not pitch again this season. Despite his injuries, McCarthy has found his natural rhythm on the mound and is capable of being a solid no. 2 to no. 3 man in a rotation. He’ll likely demand 5 years and somewhere between $55-60 million. He possibly could command something similar to what CJ Wilson got last season (5 yr, $77.5 million).
- Edwin Jackson RHP (age 29, $11 million, career: 10 years, 69-70, 4.36 ERA, 6.9 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 1.433 WHIP, 12.1 WAR): The Royals were “in” on Jackson last winter before he decided to take his talents to D.C. on a one-year, $11 million deal – which the Royals were clearly unable to match. Up until the past few seasons, he was one of those guys who was described as “a thrower, not a pitcher”, which has lead him to bounce around from team to team. He debuted with the Dodgers in 2003, was traded to the then Devil Rays in 2006, who then dealt him to the Tigers following the 2008 season. A year later, Jackson was shipped to the Diamondbacks as part of the Curtis Granderson-Austin Jackson deal. He threw a no-hitter with the D-Backs, even though he walked 8 and hit one that game. Near the trade deadline of 2010, the Diamondbacks sent him to the White Sox. On July 27th 2011, Jackson was traded twice – first to the Blue Jays, who then shipped him to the Cardinals. After declining arbitration from St. Louis, he became a free agent. Cue the Nationals, and here we are. Since being traded to Chicago in mid-2010, a light has turned on for E-Jax – he’s 25-21 with a 3.69 ERA, 7.6 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9. His four-seamer and two-seamer sit around 95-96 mph on average; he also throws a hard-biting slider, a changeup, and a curve in the upper 70’s. Given he’s making $11 million this season, he’ll most likely be looking for something in the $12-15 million range on a 4-6 year deal.
- Paul Maholm LHP (age 30, $4.25 million w/ $6.5 million club option, $500K buyout, career: 8 years, 65-83, 4.29 ERA, 5.7 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 1.400 WHIP, 12.1 WAR): Paul Maholm falls under the “crafty lefty” label, a la Jeff Francis, Bruce Chen, Everett Teaford and every other left-handed pitcher in baseball history not named Randy Johnson. He’s a sinkerball pitcher, which is capable of touching 90 mph, but that’s it. Same is the case with his four-seamer. His repetoire also includes a changeup, cutter, slider (all of which clock in the low 80’s), and a low-to-mid 70’s curveball. His overall career numbers aren’t anything to gawk over, but he’s been injury-free, averaging 30 starts per season. He’s a work-horse who can chew-up innings, which is highly valuable. If the Braves opt for the $500K buyout, Maholm could land basically anywhere. My guess is he could get 2-4 years with anywhere between $6-9 million per year.
- Jake Peavy RHP (age 31, $17 million w/ $22 million club option, $4 million buyout, career: 11 years, 120-93, 3.46 ERA, 8.7 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 1.184 WHIP, 31.3 WAR, 2007 NL Cy Young): There’s no doubt that Peavy is capable of being a great pitcher. But there’s also no doubt that the White Sox will turn down his $22 million option in favor of paying Peavy $4 million to buyout the last year of his contract. Injuries have shortened Peavy’s past three seasons (not including 2012): 2009: 16 starts – strained tendon in ankle; 2010: 17 starts – detached muscle in back; 2011: 18 starts – lingering back injury issues, arm fatigue. But so far this season, Peavy has kept himself off the DL. In 30 starts, he’s 10-11 with a 3.40 ERA with a 1.134 WHIP and 180 K’s in 203.2 IP. At this point in his career, Peavy will be looking to join a perennial contender – possibly signing a few short-term deals before his career is over. Possibly 1-3 years, $18 million per. It’s a heavy price to pay, and his injury history may lower that number to $15-17 per.
- Francisco Liriano LHP (age 28, $5.5 million, career: 7 years, 53-53, 4.38 ERA, 9.1 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, 1.349 WHIP, 8.9 WAR): Liriano has battled to remain an effective starting pitcher over the past few seasons. When he’s on, he can be extremely effective – and at times unhittable. For example, his no-hitter in 2011, where he walked six, was his first, and thus far only, complete game. But he also has his demons. He’s undergone Tommy John surgery already (missed all of 2007), has battled many shoulder/elbow issues, has never eclipsed the 200-inning mark (191.2 in 2010), has made more than 30 starts only once (also in 2010), and has been bouncing back-and-forth between the starting rotation and the bullpen with both the Twins and White Sox this season. But Liriano does get his fair share of swings and misses, thanks to a fantastic mid-80’s slider, as well as low-to-mid 90 mph four and two-seam fastballs. I would guess, given his recent inconsistencies, that he’s in line for a possible one-year deal for around $6-9 million.
- Carlos Villanueva RHP (age 29, $2.277 million, career: 7 years, 33-34, 4.21 ERA, 7.8 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 1.292 WHIP, 5.2 WAR): According to the Toronto Sun (Kansas City Star article here), the Royals are already showing interest in the Blue Jays’ pending free agent. Classified as more of a “tweener”, Villanueva has spent the vast majority of his career coming out of the bullpen (300 appearances, 55 starts). Being primarily a starter in the minors before debuting in 2006, the Blue Jays opted to give him a chance as a starter this summer after their rotation was absolutely obliterated by the injury bug. Thus far, Carlos has done his job admirably. In 37 games this season (15 starts), he’s 7-6 with a 3.88 ERA with 115 Ks and 45 BBs in 120.2 IP. The Blue Jays have already stated their reluctance to give Villanueva a new deal, basing their stance on the fact that he hasn’t shown he can be this steady in the rotation over a full season. The Royals should be wary as well of offering him too much money with little history to back it up. But signing Villanueva would help create more comptetion come next spring while providing his valuable flexibility as either a starter or reliever. Pitching is always in high-demand, and Carlos figures to cash-in. He should get something like $20-25 million over 4-5 years – which is very do-able as far as the Royals are concerned.
- Joe Saunders LHP (age 32, $6 million, career: 8 years, 77-64, 4.15 ERA, 5.1 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 1.369 WHIP, 8.5 WAR): Other than Liriano, Joe Saunders is the possibly the best lefty available. He’s very similar in body and pitching style to current Royal Will Smith. Joe has proven to be a durable arm, averaging 6 innings per start and 200+ innings per season. He doesn’t get a ton of strikeouts, but he keeps his walk numbers down and draws his fair share of groundball outs. The former top-prospect of the Angels has seen time with both the Diamondbacks and the Orioles throughout his career, proving he can pitch effectively in either league. He could garner a 2-3 year deal, and could earn up to or around $8 million per.
I’m going to take a step away from my usual optimistic take on the Royals right now. Now standing at 31-39, 6 games back of the White Sox, and just 1.5 games ahead of the lowly Twins, the Royals just had their most heart-breaking series as of yet. The Cardinals outscored them 30-14 during the weekend series in Kansas City. The Royals’ starting pitchers (Vin Mazzaro, Luis Mendoza, and Jonathan Sanchez) combined for 11.1 innings, 17 runs (all earned), 7 Ks, 10 BBs (6 from Jonathan Sanchez), and 238 pitches (101 of which were balls).
Something has to change.
Here is how the current rotation is fairing according to WAR (Wins Above Replacement).
- Bruce Chen: 6-6, 4.54 ERA, 6.4 K/9, 2.0 BB/9, 0.6 WAR
- Vin Mazzaro: 3-2, 5.14 ERA, 6.0 K/9, 4.4 BB/9, 0.0 WAR
- Luis Mendoza: 2-4, 4.95 ERA, 4.5 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, -0.1 WAR
- Luke Hochevar: 4-7, 5.65 ERA, 6.9 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, -0.3 WAR
- Jonathan Sanchez: 1-3, 6.21 ERA, 6.0 K/9, 7.3 BB/9 -0.3 WAR
Now, given, the Royals’ starting rotation has taken an absolute beating this season when it comes to health. Both Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino are Tommy John victims; Duffy, Paulino, Sanchez have had stints on the DL; basically every starter outside of Bruce Chen has had extreme bouts of inconsistency.
The bottom line is this: No self-respecting organization would consistently trot a rotation like this one out to the mound 5-7 days a week.
The losses of Duffy (6 starts, 2-2, 3.90 ERA, 9.1 K/9, 5.9 BB/9) and Paulino (7 starts, 3-1, 1.67 ERA, 9.3 K/9, 3.6 BB/9) really hurt this team, as they were arguably the most effective and consistent starters the Royals have had this season.
The Royals have had a myriad of mostly ineffective fill-ins and spot-starters this season: Luis Mendoza (13 games, 8 starts), Vin Mazzaro (6 games, 5 starts), Will Smith (3 games, 3 starts), Nate Adcock (9 games, 2 starts), and Everett Teaford (3 games, 1 start). All in all, the Royals have had 10 different starting pitchers to date.
I’ll say it again: Something has to change.
Clearly, the type of work that has been done by Sanchez, Mendoza, Mazzaro, Hochevar, Smith, Adcock, and Teaford can be at least matched – if not bested – by almost anybody else (combined 253.1 IP, 11-22 record, 155 ER, 6.12 ERA).
Fans, bloggers, reporters, writers, radio hosts, and the like are all calling for the Royals to make a change.
Do something we haven’t seen before.
And most importantly for each and every Royals fan: Give us a reason to believe in this team. Show us that you want to give this organization the best chance to win.
Because these guys aren’t it.
I’m sure Dayton Moore hears us all clamoring for the team to make a move. Afterall, being harolded as a great baseball minded individual, he can’t possibly think that this is the best we can do. I’m sure he’s fielding trade offers to some degree, keeping in mind that Jake Odorizzi and Wil Myers are off the table.
Names like Matt Garza, Wandy Rodriguez, Jeremy Guthrie, Ryan Dempster, Joe Blanton, and many others are all floating around the rumor mill – with the Royals having possible interest in nearly all of them. Garza, as young and talented as he is, would command a major return since he isn’t arbitration eligible until after 2013. Rodriguez and Dempster fall more under the veteran rent-a-pitcher category for teams in a playoff push as they are both in the final year of their respective contracts. Guthrie and Blanton are both well-seasoned, over-paid veterans who could fill a spot in just about every team’s starting rotation – albeit as a teams third, fourth, or fifth starter. Outside of Matt Garza, acquiring any of the other names I mentioned would be virtual waste of time and prospects given the Royals current spot in the standings.
Of course, the other consideration: call somebody up!
Although the Royals pitching depth at the Triple-A level isn’t overwhelming right now, there are a few names who could do the same or better than what the Royals have in Kansas City right now.
- Jake Odorizzi: Izzy is the concensus’ top pitching prospect in the Royals’ system (and maybe even the organization’s best pitcher talent-wise). At 22, the right-hander has been dominating minor league hitters at both the Double-A and Triple-A levels. In his first 7 starts, while at Double-A NW Arkansas, Jake was 4-2 with a 3.32 ERA in 38 IP with a K:BB ratio of 4.7:1 and a WHIP of 0.97. Jake has continued to roll through minor league lineups after being promoted to Omaha to the tune of a 5-0 record with an ERA of just 2.72, a K:BB ratio of 3.2:1, and a 1.36 WHIP in 7 games (6 starts) totaling 39.2 innings. At this point, what more does he have to accomplish at the minor league level? This guy is big league ready in my opinion. It’s time for him to make the jump.
- Mike Montgomery: Monty has been passed by Odorizzi in the prospect rankings lately, as he has seen his performance decline since being promoted to Omaha in 2011. Struggles aside, Mike still has the stuff to pitch in the big leagues. So far, Mike has a 3-4 record in 14 starts this season with a less-than-stellar 4.76 ERA. He has 53 Ks in 79.1 IP, but he also has 38 BB – a 1.4 K:BB ratio (a 2:1 ratio is the standard). His performance as of late has been progressing, but it’s the lack of talent in Kansas City right now that could warrant his promotion. Maybe he just needs a change of scenery.
- Ryan Verdugo: The other guy KC got in the Melky Cabrera-Jonathan Sanchez trade, lefty Ryan Verdugo has been fairly good this season in Omaha. Before last season, Duggy had been used primarily as a reliever. He was converted into a starter while still in the Giants organization and has continued to start for the Storm Chasers. He’s 5-2 in 14 starts (79 IP), owning a 3.65 ERA, a 1.5:1 K:BB ratio, and a WHIP of 1.28. He was called up to the big league club back in June to serve out of the bullpen, but he never made an appearance before being optioned back down to Omaha. Given his numbers this season, Verdugo appears to be a serviceable rotation arm who should garner a serious look in Kansas City.
- Nate Adcock: After being selected by the Royals in the 2010-11 Rule 5 Draft, Adcock spent all of last season in Kansas City as the long-reliever/spot-starter – and did a failry decent job. The 24 year old sinkerballer was 1-1 with a 4.62 ERA in 24 games (3 starts) totaling 60.1 innings. In 2012, Nate has split time between Omaha (where he’s in the rotation) and Kansas City (in the same role he had last season). He’s done well enough in both spots (Omaha: 6 games/5 starts, 3-2, 3.03 ERA, 1.07 WHIP; KC: 9 games/2 starts, 0-3, 3.12 ERA, 1.57 WHIP) that one could assume that he could replicate those numbers against big league lineups. He at least deserves a chance.
- Everett Teaford: After toiling around in the minor leagues for 5+ seasons, lefty Everett Teaford, now 28, made his big league debut last season to the tune of a 2-1 record and 3.27 ERA in 26 games (3 starts). Like Adcock, Teaford has split time between Omaha and KC. In 3 games with Kansas City this season, he’s left a little to be desired given his 5.73 ERA and 7 walks in 3 games (1 start, 11 IP). But he’s pitched very well in Omaha, thus far going 4-0 with a 1.09 ERA in 7 games (6 starts). His WHIP is solid at 0.97, and he’s striking out nearly 7 hitters per 9 innings. He’s the most likely to be called up soon in my mind since he’s a lefty and can fill a hole in either the rotation or the ‘pen.
- Will Smith: Will got a shot at being a member of the big league rotation in late May and early June, sandwiching one quality start with two less-than-quality outings (1-2, 9.00 ERA). His record in Omaha doesn’t look much much better (1-4, 11 starts), but he has a semi-respectable 4.65 ERA and a 3:1 K:BB ratio. At 22 years old, Will may not have been ready to play with the big boys when he was first called up. And he may not be ready if his name is called once again. But, as I’ve said before, he presents more hope and potential than most of the starters the Royals a currently sending to the mound.
- Doug Davis: At 36, Doug Davis is hardly a top prospect. But, for what it’s worth, the 13-year veteran is pitching well in Omaha. In 7 games (3 starts) Doug is 3-1 and sports a 3.08 ERA in 26.1 IP. I wouldn’t particularly like to see him take up space on the big league roster, but I guess there are worse choices.
Or just call up Wil Myers already. #FreeWilly