With the Kansas City Royals reportedly listening to trade offers on many of their veterans at the Winter Meetings, the New York Yankees should take a look at a few of their starting pitchers.
In a recent column, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports that the Kansas City Royals are looking to cut payroll this offseason by moving a few of their more expensive veteran assets, particularly the guys who are able to hit free agency in the next season or two. With the Yankees on the hunt for pitching upgrades, they could inquire on KC starters like Ian Kennedy, Yordano Ventura, and Danny Duffy.
Kennedy is the oldest and most expensive of the trio, but he also would cost the least. The 31-year-old righty struggled early, but finished the season with a solid 3.68 ERA and 4.67 FIP in 195.2 IP, making him a four win player according to Baseball-Reference’s metric.
Despite his roots with the team (the Yankees drafted him 21st overall in the 2006 June amateur draft), it’s unlikely New York would want to take on the remainder of the ill-fated five-year $70 million deal the Royals gave Kennedy just last winter. They could have him for nothing, and he would probably be a slight upgrade for their rotation next year, but he just isn’t worth the price.
Way more interesting is 27-year-old lefty Danny Duffy, who put up a 3.51 ERA and 3.83 FIP in 179.2 IP last season and has emerged as the Royals’ best starter, even if he’s not necessarily a true number one. Duffy is set to earn a considerable raise in his final year of arbitration and then hit free agency after 2017, so he seems like one of the pieces KC will be most motivated to move this winter despite his success.
While New York would just be acquiring one-year of control, they would have all year to work out an extension with one of the American League’s better young starters. He’s accumulated 9.3 wins above replacement the last three years according to B-R, and still seems to be improving.
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Another young arm who might come cheaper than Duffy but comes with much more risky is Yordano Ventura. The flame-throwing 25-year-old is signed reasonably through 2019, but has yet to capitalize on his immense promise.
Ventura put up a 4.45 ERA and 4.59 FIP in 186 IP in 2016. He walked a career-high 10.5% of the batters he faced last year (3.8 BB/9), while seeing his strikeout rate dip from 22.6% the previous year (8.6 K/9) down to 17.7% (7.0 K/9). He’s also reportedly exhausted his Royals teammates and the front office with his on-field flareups and maturity issues.