Before you instantly dismiss the question, I have a riddle for you:
Many of you are aware by now that Bartolo received a radical surgery in his home country of the Dominican Republic, involving the use of stem cells injected into his arm, which has revitalized a career that went on life support in 2006 and was declared legally dead in 2009. While the controversy over the surgery has more or less subsided (for now), Bartolo continues to pitch, at age 39, and pitch effectively.
Over the past two seasons, Señor Colon has pitched 308 innings for the Yankees and Athletics, respectively. Over the course of that 308 innings, he has a K/9 rate of 6.5 and a BB/9 rate of 1.8, good for a K/BB ratio of 3.54. He's also accumulated 5.1 WAR over those innings.
Here's a list of Royals starters who have managed to match Colon in those four categories the past two seasons:
And now here's a list of starters who have managed to match him in at least three of those four categories:
Two of the four? Yeah, not so much.
*Note: Minimum 100 IP for starters only. Statistics for Paulino and Francis include time spent pitching for other teams, last year and this year, respectively.
Luke trumps him in innings, Duffy and Paulino in K/9, and if you remove Felipe's time with Colorado, he's got him on ERA, FIP, and xFIP as well. But that's it. Two of those guys are out until some time around the All-Star Break next year, one of them doesn't even pitch for the team anymore, and the other three are Luke Hochevar, Bruce Chen and Luis Mendoza.
It seems utterly ludicrous for me to even bring it up as a possibility. Yet here we are, fallen so far, so fast. The Royals are more than desperate for pitching. Going in to this off-season, the prevailing understanding is that the Royals need to sign two starting pitchers to even consider the possibility of contention in 2013. The offense is sort of there. The defense is solid to very good everywhere from home plate to the left field foul pole on over, right until you hit the 385 sign in right-center:
The answer to the riddle? 2.25. Colon is on a one-year deal for $2m, while Chen is earning $4.5m this year (and next year).
So why not make it three SP's this off-season? The risk with Colon is minimal, as his age and history should limit him to another one-year deal for 2013. The price will be negligible, as he lacks any sort of real leverage to negotiate a huge payday. And, as he has shown the past two seasons, he's been a better option than most of what the Royals have been able to push out there over the last 1 2/3 seasons. It's the kind of move small-market teams need to make, taking a measured risk with a veteran player in a year where they could theoretically contend as opposed to flinging $6 million at Betancourt and Broxton (and $22m at Chen and Francoeur).