Brett Anderson

Bargain Shopping – The Pitchers

With the holiday season mostly past us, it’s that time of year with bargains everywhere. You can hardly walk past a store without seeing a sign advertising a big discount on whatever it is you wanted so badly a month ago. The discount shopping extends to all areas of life as the baseball world now will turn its attention to finding deals.

Sure, some stores will continue to place their aging slugger who nobody likes at full price in the hopes that someone will bite, but for the most part, there are deals to be had. And that’s the perfect time of year for the Royals, who have made precisely two moves this offseason to impact their big league club but need more help if they want to compete for the division title again.

The good news for the Royals is that they are actually in good shape as far as their core roster is concerned. They have pretty much every position accounted for, and the opportunity to search for an upgrade at maybe one of those positions – second base.

In spite of that, let’s start with the pitching side because if the Royals make a move, it seems like this is where it would be. We’ll get to the hitters in another post.


Brett Anderson – On the bright side, Anderson has made at least one start every year since 2009. Of course, he’s made single digit starts because of injuries in four of those years. That said, when he’s healthy, he’s actually pretty solid as evidenced by his 180.1 innings in 2015 with a 3.69 ERA. No, he’s not an ace, but if he’s willing to sign an incentive laden deal based on starts, he’s likely to be worth every penny and the Royals should be interested.

Jorge De La Rosa – On the surface, there’s not much of a reason why a team would want De La Rosa after he posted a 5.51 ERA and 1.64 WHIP for the Rockies last year. But the three years prior, he made 88 starts with Colorado as his home park and posted a 3.92 ERA. There’s something to be said for that. I wouldn’t pay much for him, but he could be a nice source of some innings while allowing Matt Strahm and maybe even Kyle Zimmer to come along.

Jason Hammel – On one hand, there’s a red flag that the Cubs declined a reasonable option with a solid pitcher. On the other hand, for a middle to back of the rotation option, teams could do far worse than Hammel, who has been really solid since leaving Colorado after the 2011 season. He’s not going to get you deep into games, but he’ll take the ball when healthy and put up solid numbers. He did just change agents, so he may be looking for a deal that’s a little more than a bargain, but maybe the Royals could work something out that’s backloaded to get him in house for 2017 and help him to make the 2018 team respectable as well.

Tyson Ross – A team signing Ross could be signing an ace. Or they could get nothing. He’s likely to get more than the Royals are willing to pay, but he could very well be worth it. From 2013-2015, he posted a 3.07 ERA with 526 strikeouts in 516.2 innings, mostly as a starter. He doesn’t allow many hits, but he does walk some batters. Still, he’s a top of the rotation guy when healthy and right, and could be a nice hit for a bargain relative to his talents. As a ground ball pitcher, and an extreme one at that, he doesn’t need Kauffman Stadium as much as some pitchers do, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have that big outfield and the great outfield defense behind him. If I’m the Royals, I’d figure out a way to get him under contract for 2017 and 2018 even if it means turning over every couch cushion in the Truman Sports Complex. Every team likely feels this way, though, so it’s not likely to happen, but it’s fun to think about.


Trevor Cahill – Once upon a time, Cahill was one of the up and coming young starters in baseball when he was with Oakland. He was always the guy who outperformed his peripherals and then he started actually striking guys out and started struggling. Baseball is weird like that. He was shifted to the bullpen after joining the Cubs during the 2015 season and excelled there. Now he wants a chance to start. I think the Royals can definitely offer that with the option to move him back to a need in the bullpen if that doesn’t work out. I’d take a chance here.

Scott Feldman – After a really nice start to the year in Houston, Feldman fell apart in Toronto, but I think he could be a good option as a swingman. As recently as 2015, he made 18 starts and was good enough for the back of a rotation with Houston. He was moved to the bullpen and excelled there for the Astros, so I’d be interested to see him in a bigger park like Kansas City. In spite of his ground ball tendencies, he does give up some fly balls and could benefit from a few of those turning into outs that maybe didn’t at his previous stops.

Vance Worley – Honestly, I’m surprised he hasn’t been a Royal at some point in his career already. Aside from a disastrous 2013 with the Twins when he posted a 7.21 ERA in 10 starts, he’s actually been solid in his career. His peripherals are sort of ugly as he doesn’t get a ton of strikeouts, but he fills a valuable role in a pitching staff as he can start or relieve and do both well enough that you don’t feel like you’re giving a game away. He’s also not good enough to command any real money, so he’d be a good risk for a team looking for pitching depth like the Royals should be doing.


Neftali Feliz – You don’t have to go too deep in baseball history to find a time when Feliz was one of the up and coming young relievers in baseball. He was moved to the rotation in 2012 and while he was successful, he also got hurt. He’s been back in the bullpen ever since and really struggled in 2015, which led to him in Pittsburgh where he hoped he could find some of the magic so many other pitchers. He had a nice year, throwing 53.2 innings and giving up just 40 hits while striking out 61. His control isn’t elite, but it’s good enough with those strikeouts that he could be a nice weapon ahead of Strahm and Kelvin Herrera. He’s one of the few pitchers on this list who I think could actually fetch a little more money than you’d consider a bargain to make, but he’s still someone the Royals should consider. One thing in his favor with the Royals is he was signed by the Braves in 2005 when Dayton Moore was still in Atlanta, so this front office actually knows him a little bit.

Luke Hochevar – I think Hoch ends up back with the Royals. That’s just a hunch, but the two sides know and like each other and there’s a genuine need with the Royals that Hochevar can fill easily, provided he returns from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery fully healthy. While his final numbers weren’t great prior to his injury, I wonder if he was hurt before we all knew. In his first 29 appearances, he posted a 2.25 ERA and stranded 21 of 22 inherited runners. He also had 31 strikeouts and six walks. In his final 12 appearances before his season ended, he allowed three of eight inherited runners to score and just wasn’t the same pitcher, allowing four home runs. If he can get back to what he was before the injury, that’s a solid pickup for relatively cheap.

J.P. Howell – This would be a homecoming as Howell was sent from the Royals to the Devil Rays (yes, the Devil Rays) in Dayton Moore’s first trade. The Royals picked up Joey Gathright who might still be on the T-Bones? Howell has been a solid lefty reliever for years now, but had a bit of a down year for no particular reason. All the peripherals remained basically the same. He could be a really nice lefty to have in Ned Yost’s bullpen for a reasonable cost.

Peter Moylan – I think Moylan might have been one of the bigger surprises for the Royals. He isn’t great and he shouldn’t really face lefties, but he serves a role in a good bullpen, and I think he’d be willing to return to the Royals on a pretty cheap contract. He can also mop up a couple innings at a time, so he’s useful in that regard.

Sergio Romo – I’d say there’s actually a good chance Romo signs for more than he’s worth, but the results have been solid for him. His highest WHIP since the start of 2010 is 1.077. He strikes out more than a batter per inning and doesn’t walk many. He had some issues with the home run ball, so that inflated his FIP, but he’s still a quality reliever with closing experience that teams love. While some might worry that he could be the next Soria, I think he has a longer and better recent track record and would be a nice pickup if he could be had for $4 million or less.

Joe Smith – After a nice stint with the Cubs at the end of 2016, Smith may end up getting a little more than a bargain, but a 33-year old reliever doesn’t have a huge market. He doesn’t strike out a ton of guys, but gets enough. He also gets a ton of grounders when he’s on and has been elite at times in his career. His 2014 stands out when he threw 74.2 innings and gave up just 45 hits while striking out 68 batters and walking just 15. You’re not likely to get that again, but I think he could be a really good middle reliever for some team.

Drew Storen – Storen was once one of the better young closers in baseball. Then he lost his job to Jonathan Papelbon for no real reason and it was all downhill from there. He finished 2015 as a setup man with a 7.13 ERA in 17.2 innings. Then he was traded to Toronto where he gave up too many hits and too many runs. Then he was sent to Seattle where he was actually pretty okay. His control was great and he was very solid. There’s a red flag with a big velocity drop in 2016, but for a cheap deal, he’d be a worthwhile acquisition.

Those are your potential bargain bin pitchers the Royals could and maybe should be looking at as the offseason turns a corner toward pitchers and catchers reporting. Here’s a look at the bargain hitters as well.

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