Report: Royals interested in veteran pitchers, including Stroman
The Kansas City Royals may be looking to jump-start their rebuild in free agency.
Kansas City is interested in two-time All-Star right-hander Marcus Stroman, according to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com. The Royals have reportedly also had discussions with free agents Lucas Giolito, Michael Wacha, and Jack Flaherty.
Stroman, who became a free agent when he opted out of his contract with the Chicago Cubs, would instantly slot in as the experienced ace of a young Royals staff. As a ground-ball pitcher who excels at limiting home runs - he allowed only nine in 136.2 innings last year - Stroman could be an excellent fit for spacious Kauffman Stadium.
The 32-year-old posted a 3.95 ERA and 1.26 WHIP with 119 strikeouts in 136.2 innings for the Cubs last year. His numbers were far better in the first half of the season before injury derailed an All-Star campaign.
Giolito is a familiar face to the Royals, having faced them many times during his seven-year run with the division rival Chicago White Sox. The 29-year-old hit free agency after a tough 2023 season in which he posted a 4.88 ERA and allowed an AL-high 41 homers over 33 starts split between the White Sox, Los Angeles Angels, and Cleveland Guardians.
Wacha, 32, is likely looking for a multi-year deal after a solid campaign with the San Diego Padres. He put up a 3.22 ERA and 1.16 WHIP with 124 strikeouts across 24 starts, his best overall season since his All-Star campaign in 2015.
Flaherty, like Giolito, is a bounce-back candidate after completing the worst season of his career. The 28-year-old recorded a 4.99 ERA and 1.58 WHIP over 29 total appearances (27 starts) for the St. Louis Cardinals and Baltimore Orioles. He was a nonfactor in Baltimore after being acquired for three prospects at the trade deadline. However, he's been productive in past years, finishing fourth in NL Cy Young voting in 2019.
The small-market Royals are rarely involved in the upper tiers of free agency and have signed only three players to contracts of $70 million or higher. Their biggest free-agency splash was re-signing Alex Gordon to a four-year, $72-million deal in 2016. Of the four pitchers the Royals are chasing, Stroman would likely cost the most money.
The Royals are coming off a 56-106 season and haven't posted a winning record since their World Series-winning campaign in 2015. The team is now trying to construct a contending team around prized young shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., who's entering his third big-league season.