The Royals remain deluded in their hopes for Luke Hochevar


Luke Hochevar has made $3.1 million while going 7-13 with a 5.36 ERA in 28 starts this season. One would think that increasing salary combined with his worst performance since 2009 would finally result in his departure at season’s end. However, GM Dayton Moore said the Royals have no intention of non-tendering Hochevar this winter.

The Royals still seem convinced that there’s a good pitcher lurking somewhere inside Hochevar’s body just waiting to bust out. Sure, he turns 29 this week and he has a career record of 37-56 with a 5.30 ERA, but he still throws pretty hard.

“His numbers are not spectacular by any stretch of the imagination,” manager Ned Yost told the Kansas City Star, “but I’ve seen many pitchers go through what he’s gone through. Actually, he’s better than most of those guys.”

Better than what guys? Yost listed Jorge De La Rosa, Jason Schmidt and Kevin Millwood as starters who struggled for a long time before figuring it out. However, Hochevar has nothing on that trio.

Hochevar: 80 ERA+ in 124 career starts
De La Rosa: 83 ERA+ in first 59 starts, now 95 ERA+ in 126 career starts
Schmidt: 97 ERA+ in first 128 career starts
Millwood: 114 ERA+ in first 126 career starts

No, Hochevar has very little common in those guys. I can only find one guy in the last 50 years who had a six-year start similar to Hochevar’s and went on to to become a really good pitcher. That’s Mike Scott, who found a splitter and won a Cy Young Award with the Astros in 1986. He had a 78 ERA+ through six years.

Ryan Dempster is also worth mentioning; he had an 85 ERA+ in his first six seasons before hurting his arm, turning to relief and eventually becoming a quality starter. Dempster, though, had already had one big season at age 23. Hochevar has never had a year in which he’s been an average starter.

There’s also Jamie Moyer with an 87+ ERA through six years, but I don’t see Hochevar going that route.

The point is that the odds are very much against Hochevar at this point, and though I don’t necessarily disagree that he still has some upside remaining, the Royals would likely be better off on spending their $4 million on someone else next year.

Blue Jays sign Danny Espinosa to minors deal

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Free agent middle infielder Danny Espinosa signed a minor-league deal with the Blue Jays, the team announced Saturday. The deal includes an invite to spring training, where Espinosa is scheduled for his first split-squad game against the Orioles this afternoon.

Espinosa, 30, was inked to another minor-league deal with the Yankees in January. The veteran infielder was competing for an infield job until the team picked up second baseman Neil Walker on a one-year, $4 million deal last Monday. Prior to his release, he slashed .160/.276/.320 with one home run through his first 12 games with the Yankees this spring. He didn’t fare much better in the majors last year, either, batting a cumulative .173/.245/.278 with six home runs and a .523 OPS in 295 PA for the Mariners and Rays.

Blue Jays starting shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is still dealing with a bone spur in his heel and has officially been ruled out for Opening Day, which could clear a path for Espinosa to claim a starting role in Toronto. Of course, he won’t be the only candidate under consideration — Yangervis Solarte and Aledmys Diaz are still in the mix as well, though no final decision appears to be made just yet.