The annual MLB winter meetings insist on keeping everyone on pins and needles regarding where the next big name will sign or any of the several potential blockbuster trades being tossed around. One thing is for certain, however: Rumors are rampant this time of year, and they don’t discriminate against any organization.
The Kansas City Royals have been semi-active this offseason, signing free-agent pitcher Jeremy Guthrie and making a trade with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to acquire Ervin Santana—both of whom will help anchor a previously less-than-sufficient starting pitching rotation.
While the Royals’ ineptitude on the diamond over the better part of two decades can be traced back to many shortcomings, starting pitching has long been the most glaring deficiency.
General Manager Dayton Moore has set out to quell this issue.
However, based on the market taking a slow course, the Royals are left at a huge disadvantage when throwing elbows with the usual suspects when it comes to gobbling up the more recognizable names.
Couple that with Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reporting that the money to bring in players this year is already past budget, and the current roster might be what we see come the start of the 2013 season.
Right now, experienced options for Kansas City’s starting rotation include Guthrie, Santana, Bruce Chen, the recently tendered Luke Hochevar, Luis Mendoza, Will Smith and Jake Odorizzi. Both Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino are recovering from Tommy John surgery, while Mike Montgomery, John Lamb and Justin Marks will also be names thrown about as potential starters.
Assuming the Royals don’t add another starting pitcher, their rotation could like this on opening day:
How many games will the Royals win with this starting rotation?
While this collection of arms is an upgrade to what the Royals have fielded in the past, it isn’t enough to take this team to the next level.
Guthrie certainly isn’t of top-of-the-rotation quality, and Santana isn’t an ideal No. 2 candidate, but when these are your options, everyone is forced to shift upward.
With Chen under contract through next season and Hochevar being given a nominal vote of confidence from manager Ned Yost, both are virtual locks for the rotation as well.
Who gets the nod as the No. 5 starter is the only thing up for debate at this point, and experience would point to Mendoza—though the back of the rotation could be very fluid the entire season.
If the Royals are able to pull off a coup this offseason, the entire outlook on their starting pitching changes. But as things stand right now, don’t expect too much more out of this group than what we’ve seen before.
Follow Jeremy on Twitter @KCPopFlyBoy.