Onward we go. This winter should be a busy one for Dayton Moore and Company. Three key positions need to be answered in the coming months. As you know, the Royals announced they had declined Billy Butler's $12.5 million option, which should have been no surprise to anyone. Billy wants to stay, which is great to hear, but a cheap and mutual agreement between Butler and the Royals will be needed. While discussing this with fellow R.R. members, we believe a 1 year $6 million deal could do it, or possibly a 2 year $12 million contract. However, if another suitor comes along with a 2 year $14 million deal on the table, I think Butler takes it. He's repeatedly said he wants to #BeRoyal, but baseball is a business. We'll have to wait and see what he decides. Life without Billy just doesn't seem right.
To the main topic of this post. Our rotation was revamped two years ago when the Royals traded top prospect Wil Myers for James Shields and Wade Davis. I think it's safe to say, we won the trade. Now that 2014 has come to a close, 'Big Game' James is a free agent and is seeking big money in free agency. Will the Royals extend a Qualifying Offer of 1 year $15.3 million to the soon-to-be 33 year old? Sure. Will James take the deal? He will probably test the waters of the market before discussing anything with the Royals. One place I can see him land is Chicago. No, not with the White Sox, but reuniting with his former manager Joe Maddon and dawning a Cubs uniform. The Cubs have a great core of young talent and something they could use again is an ace for their rotation. I don't want Shields to go away any more than I do Billy, but with the Royals current situation, Butler seems to be the top priority for the time being.
So, let's talk in terms of 2015 without James Shields. He undeniably helped the Royals get to where they are today, but Dayton and his colleagues need to think of a possible replacement. One idea could be to sign 31 year old Brandon McCarthy. There's no question that he wasn't superb in Arizona to begin the 2014 season. In 18 starts for the D-Backs, he was 3-10 with a 5.01 ERA. Those numbers helped the Yankees lure him in from Arizona by exchanging Vidal Nuno. McCarthy stepped up in a big way for his final 14 starts, going 7-5 with a 2.89 ERA with 82 Ks and 13 BBs in 90.1 innings. This was definitely a nice acquisition considering the injuries to C.C. Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka.
|Photo by Bill Kostroun, NYPost.com|
2014 was definitely a breath of fresh air for Brandon. For Arizona and NY combined, he logged 200 innings for the first time in his career, and the most since his 2011 campaign with Oakland when he threw 170 innings. For most of his career, McCarthy has been inconsistent, except for his two year stint in Oakland, which he enjoyed very much. In 281.2 innings, he had a combined ERA of 3.29 with 196 Ks and 49 BBs. He has good command of his fastball, which averaged 93 mph this season, he features a nice cutter that the Yankees encouraged him to through again, which could be part of his success in the pinstripes. He'll also put some sink on his fastball and throws a curveball around 80 mph and a changeup, but the off-speed pitch was almost non-existent as he threw it only 0.7% of the time.
McCarthy would definitely be a gamble. He made $10.25 million in 2014, while making a combined $15.5 million the last two seasons. I've seen possible offers for the righty at around $30 million in total for 3 years. That's quite a bit for the Royals to take on, considering McCarthy has been anything but consistent throughout his career. Here's a plus: his groundball and flyball numbers have flipped since the beginning of his career in 2005. According to FanGraphs, his GB% the past 2 seasons: 48.2% and 52.6%, respectively. FB% the past 2 seasons: 27.1% and 24.7%. Compared to Shields, McCarthy would be a cheaper replacement, but is it worth the risk on the unpredictable 31 year old?