If I had to sum up the thinking of Royals Review on the Bruce Chen contract (2/$9 million) and his status on the team, I think that summation would be "meh." Chen (and his contract) are usually used as ammunition against Moore's roster construction skills. Four months ago, I would have agreed. But between his effective performance in 9 starts (3.67 FIP, 3.96 xFIP, better than 3.5 K/BB) and the Bruce Chen "Joke of the Day" on the jumbotron, my attitude is changing. Is Chen undervalued by the RR community?
The value of the contract isn't the only possible objection to the Chen signing. One could argue that Chen's presence prevents the Royals from having a younger, higher upside starter in the rotation, but one look at our current rotation and lack of viable options counters that argument. Who, among Mendoza, Smith, Teaford, Adcock, Mazzaro et al., can be counted on to provide even 1.5 WAR given, say, 30 starts?
There is also an argument that Moore should have acquired someone else besides Chen, but I think that misses the mark a bit, because I think Moore could have acquired someone else and Chen. Moore's failure to otherwise bolster the rotation is real, but it's not attributable to the Chen signing. I'd have like to have Edwin Jackson (or insert your favorite free agent pitcher that signed for less than expected here) as much as anyone. Moore thought the Royals could contend with a rotation of Chen, Hoch, Sanchez, Duffy, and Mendoza/Paulino. That's a huge miscalculation, but to me (in hidsight) the move would have been to add Jackson (or whoever) to the mix because it was entirely foreseeable that one or more pitchers would log some DL time (especially since they knew Duffy's elbow was a ticking time bomb).
So I've come around on Bruce Chen. He certainly could implode and finish as a 1.0 WAR pitcher, but -- heck -- I won't mind seeing this guy on the team next year. We simply have too many holes to fill in the rotation without him. And I can't believe I just wrote that.