The Royals are pleased with the strides that top position prospects Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez made in 2011. But the Royals also know that they’re going to need an improved starting rotation to reach their organizational goal of competing in 2012, and that the desired upgrade might have to come from an outside source.
Which is why, according to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star, the Royals’ front office is beginning to consider all options. Including a potential free agent deal or even a prospect-based trade.
The free agent market for starters this winter will be quite bleak. Or maybe we should call it shallow. CC Sabathia is likely to opt out of his contract in New York, but all signs point to him returning to the Yankees with a slightly fatter wallet. Rangers lefty C.J. Wilson will be available, but over half the league will be interested in him and it’s doubtful Kansas City will be able to put together a competitive bid.
Then there’s Edwin Jackson, an impending free agent right-hander currently pitching for the cross-state Cardinals. Dutton says the Royals “figure to make a run” at the 28-year-old and his high-velocity fastball.
A trade is another option. Despite this year’s callups, the Royals’ farm system remains loaded with talent and a Royals official suggested to the Star that prospects Cheslor Cuthbert, Wil Myers, Mike Montgomery and Jake Odorizzi could be made available. “Now, it has to be the right guy,” cautioned the unnamed exec.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.