Friday, February 21, 2014

Looking to Future Rotations

With each passing day that Ervin Santana remains a free agent, more and more Royals fans' confidence grows that Santana could return to Kansas City. While I hate to throw water on to these dreams, I am afraid that I have to.

Santana will not be coming back to Kansas City.

The Royals are too deep into their off-season plans and it is woefully apparent that whether or not it is true, the team is operating with the opinion that $90 million is the break even point. The rotation has four out of five spots left and multiple candidates for the fifth spot that are deserving of a chance with the big league club.

Here's a quick snapshot of the next few years rotations:


  1. James Shields
  2. Jeremy Guthrie
  3. Jason Vargas
  4. Bruce Chen
  5. TBD
  1. Jeremy Guthrie
  2. Jason Vargas
  3. TBD
  4. TBD
  5. TBD
2016 & 2017
  1. Jason Vargas
  2. TBD
  3. TBD
  4. TBD
  5. TBD
Obviously, it is the Royals hope that they can fill their rotation with homegrown talent starting next season. Just a month or so ago, J.J. Picollo even stated that he expects Danny Duffy, Yordano Ventura, Kyle Zimmer, and Sean Manaea all to be ready to hold down big league spots. Also, on the horizon is Jason Adam and Miguel Almonte. 

It does appear that the Royals will have the arms to fill out a couple of spots in their big league rotation, but are they going to be able to fill three spots as soon as next season? 

What if this season Duffy totally loses control and Kyle Zimmer blows out his elbow? Where will that leave the Royals next off-season as they attempt to fill out their rotation. Would it be more economical to sign Santana now when conceivably his price has been diminished or would it be better to jump the market and overpay next off-season for another Vargas/Guthrie type. 

If the Royals were to sign Santana, he could slot into the rotation instead of Bruce Chen for 2014. With the addition of Santana, Chen could slide into a swing man role and the Royals could still have a competition for the final rotation spot. Next season, they'd ideally have established one or two of the Duffy, Ventura, Zimmer bunch and would be able to fill out a rotation with some confidence. 

Given the Royals history of starting pitcher development, it seems incredibly ballsy to expect the the current crop of prospects can fill three spots in next years rotation. This indicates to me that next off-season the Royals will once again have to dip their toes into the starting pitching market of free agency. So I leave you with a final question: would it be better to go over the salary threshold this year to get Santana at below market value, or would it be better to wait and overpay next off-season? 

Follow me on Twitter @Landon_Adams!

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