Regardless of whether Joakim Soria is able to rest and rehab his damaged ulnar collateral ligament or undergoes season-ending Tommy John surgery the Royals will need a new closer.
Free agent signing Jonathan Broxton is the obvious replacement because of his previous experience in the role, but Greg Holland was great as a rookie setup man last season and manager Ned Yost hasn’t decided yet who will get the nod to replace Soria.
Or at least that’s what Yost told Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star:
They’ve both looked great this spring. We’ll give it time to play out. We could very well use both of them in that situation. I’ve got the confidence to use both of them. I think they both can handle it.
Managers often say they’re willing to use multiple pitchers in the closer role, but rarely do they actually go through with those plans for more than a few save opportunities.
Kansas City paid $4 million to see if Broxton can rediscover his once-dominant raw stuff and pitching coach Dave Eiland told Dutton that the former Dodgers closer has been very impressive while throwing in the mid-90s. Of course, Holland was dominant last year, logging 60 innings with a 1.80 ERA and 74/19 K/BB ratio while averaging 94.9 miles per hour with his fastball.
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.