I know you've heard it all before: Sign a free agent starting pitcher. Trade for a starting pitcher. Will you just get some starting pitching already!!!! This is different; I promise. This is about ... signing a starting pitcher. But hear me out because I have a plan (famous last words).
Allow me to take you through the narrative. At first, I screamed for starting pitching. Edwin Jackson, Roy Oswalt, Trevor Cahill, etc. I just knew the Royals were just a starting pitcher away, and I actually believe they still are. But then, I started reading and thinking, and my mind began to shift. I began to see that buying or trading for a starting pitcher now wasn't worth the damage it could do to the future of the Royals franchise. If paying Jackson means we can't afford Alex Gordon, I thought, forget Jackson. If we have to give up Wil Meyer, just to get Gio Gonzalez, let's keep Wil Meyer. Now, I'm shifting again. And here's why.
Roy Oswalt is sooooo cheap right now. Recently, it was reported that he would be willing to accept as little as one-year, $8 million to rebuild his market and go into free agency again next year. Crazy right? He's potentially worth so much more. The best part about this deal for the Royals would be that it's only a one-year contract. They wouldn't have to pay him when their payroll starts to really become an issue, and they can trade him at the deadline when he's built up his value if they want. Do you know how much an established starting pitcher could bring them in a pennant race?
Or, he could help put the Royals in their own race, in which case his value in ticket sales, general excitement, and wins would be staggering. People are worried about his health, but health aside, the guy can still pitch. In his last three years in the majors he's posted ERAs of 3.69, 2.76, and 4.12 (2011, 2010, 2009). He missed time in 2011 and only made 23 starts but in 2010 he made 32 starts and threw 211 innings. People fear the move partially because his K/9 rate was only 6.02 in 2011. However, it was only 6.85 in 2005 and only 6.77 in 2006. In those two years he won 20 and 15 games respectively, with ERAs under three both years. He can strike people out well enough, but his real golden statistics are BB/9 and HR/9. He's never had a walk rate higher than 2.55 BB/9. Do you think the current rotation could learn a thing or two from him? (That's a rhetorical question. Of course they could.) His HR/9 is even more impressive at .76 HR/9 over the course of his career. That's in Houston and Philly, not exactly pitchers ballparks. For one-year, $8 million it seems like a no brainer.
I don't think the Royals are going to give Gordon his extension until next off season, which is probably smart, though my Gordon-loving heart sings Grease songs at the thought of him staying a Royal forever. I've done some very, very rough calculations, which may be completely inaccurate, and it looks like the Royals' payroll should be around $64 million, give or take $5-6 million. Eight million for one year and then he's off the payroll, perhaps left via free agency to make more money. Perhaps left via a trade the brought the team more prospects in return.
The biggest hurdle should be Oswalt's desire to come to Kansas City. I love Kansas City, but it's a tough sell to an aging veteran who wants a chance to win at every stop. Yes, I think Jeff Francoeur should lobby for the team, and perhaps that would be enough. But if it wasn't, I would approach him like this:
Roy, how are you? How's your steak? Good? Great. Listen, we've got the money in place, one year, $8 million. We know you're looking to hit the market again next off season, and that's fine. I know you've expressed the desire to play for a contender and lately we've been .... well frankly, we've been shitty Roy. But let me tell you this. You won't find a better place to raise your value for next year's market than Kauffman Stadium. We've got a big, pitcher's ballpark, a new rangy center fielder, gold gloves waiting at short stop, first base, and behind the plate. We've got a top 5 lineup that will score you five runs an outing. If you can't win 15 games with this bunch behind you, you might consider hanging 'em up. All we need is someone on the mound who can give us a chance to win every time he takes the ball. We think that someone is you Roy. You give us a chance to be contenders, and if you can't, at least you'll earn yourself a nice fat contract next off season pitching here. (Then have Frenchy give him a big kiss or whatever he does to get free agents to come to KC ... and scene).
If I'm in Dayton Moore's office, which I'd like to be for just this week, I'm calling Oswalt's agent hourly. I'm sending him fruit baskets, cigars, prostitutes, whatever he wants. I'm talking to every friend he has in the game. I'm talking to every Royal who might potentially know him to try to get him in KC for 2012. The upside to him coming to KC is HUGE. The downside is very minimal. This is a Moore type deal waiting to happen ..... so make it happen.