The 31-year-old right-hander posted a 3.70 ERA in 21 starts for the Milwaukee Brewers last year, while striking out 109 batters and walking another 41 in 124 innings.
Marcum does come with health concerns, missing the season’s final two months with elbow tightness after suffering from a shoulder injury during spring training.
Though the financial details are not disclosed yet, the one-year commitment softens the blow should he suffer a setback.
While the Mets certainly needed to fill the void in their starting rotation left by knuckle-baller R.A. Dickey (signed with the Toronto Blue Jays), it comes as a slight shock that low-risk/high-reward Marcum was available for so long this offseason.
The Kansas City Royals have invested heavily in starting pitching in advance of the 2013 season, re-signing Jeremy Guthrie and trading for James Shields, Wade Davis and Ervin Santana—all of which are penciled in as the team’s top four starters.
With the back end of the rotation up for grabs—Luke Hochevar, Bruce Chen and Luis Mendoza as candidates—inquiring about Marcum would have seemed like a natural fit, especially since he grew up less than an hour away from Kauffman Stadium.
Though the Royals will have roughly $10 million tied up on Hochevar, Chen and Mendoza in 2013, adding Marcum to the mix would have given Kansas City a viable arm in every spot of the rotation—something this team hasn’t had in upwards of two decades.
The impending returns of starters Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino could have also played a role in general manager Dayton Moore pumping the breaks after making his initial offseason splashes. But with both starters coming off Tommy John surgery, the timelines are unknown as to when/if they can return to form prior to the injury.
While owner David Glass has made a commitment to spending more money recently, the Royals are still out of position to make a serious run at contending any time soon—unless everything comes together sooner than expected.
Assuming the cost for the Mets will be relatively low, signing Marcum just made too much sense for the Royals for it not to happen.
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