Monday, February 13, 2017
MLB offseason update: Royals rebuilding rotation after tragedy, sign Wood
On January 22, 2017, tragedy shook the world, especially the Kansas City Royals organization with the death of 25 year old pitcher Yordano "ace" Ventura. It also drew a big hole in the Royals' starting rotation. They have left hander Danny Duffy as their number one guy, and made a few moves to bolster their depth.
First, they signed 34 year old RHP Jason Hammel to replace Ventura. Hammel, who won the World Series last year with the Chicago Cubs, had an ERA of 3.83 and a WHIP of 1.20 with 144 Ks in 166.2 IP last season to help the Cubs on that run. The deal is reported to be about 2 years, with a total salary of $16 million.
Hammel wasn't the only former Cubs' pitcher who signed with Kansas City. Reliever/starter Travis Wood signed a 2 year, $12 million deal with KC, and will be expected to start this season after playing a reliever role in the windy city. Wood posted a 2.95 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 47 Ks in 61 innings (he made 77 appearances last year, all in relief) last campaign. Last year was also the first in his 7 year career he didn't start a single game.
The Royals rotation also has depth. I expect Duffy to be their number one guy (like I said earlier), with Ian Kennedy filing in at the number 2 spot. I think Hammel will be the number 3 guy, and Wood at 4. Jason Vargas, who had a 2.25 ERA in just 12 innings, last year should slot in at number 5. Guys like Nathan Karns, Mike Minor and Chris Young will probably start in the bullpen in 2017, or at AAA Omaha. But, spring training is almost underway, and Karns, Minor or Young (or maybe someone else) could overtake Vargas or Wood for those last 2 rotation spots. The Royals have a top 100 pitching prospect in Kyle Zimmer, but he's never pitched above double A. The Royals might trade one of the 8 starters on the roster (but definitely not Duffy, Kennedy, Hammel or Wood) to clear a roster spot for other relievers, or position players. Until opening day, we'll have to wait and see how the Royals handle this situation.