It is no secret the Royals need starting pitching, and many trade rumors have linked them to some of the available names. One name they have not been linked to yet, but has been rumored to be available, is Padres left-handed starting pitcher Drew Pomeranz.
Pomeranz may be one of the more sought-after pitchers on the trade market because he is club controlled for two more seasons after this one. Pomeranz earns just $1.35 million in salary for the entire season, a contract the Royals could easily afford. He is also an All-Star this season, posting a 3 WAR season so far, according to Baseball Reference. He has a 2.47 ERA in 17 starts, with a career-best 10.1 strikeouts-per-nine innings.
The 27-year old was originally a first-round pick by the Cleveland Indians, but was shipped to the Colorado Rockies as part of the Ubaldo Jimenez trade. He floundered early on in his Major League career in Colorado, with trouble commanding the strike zone, and after just two seasons he was dealt to Oakland for Brett Anderson.
Pomeranz was a swingman in Oakland, shuttling between the bullpen and rotation. He showed flashes of brilliance in 2014 as a starter, but regressed in 2015, posting a 4.63 ERA in nine starts, sending him back to the pen. Prior to this season, he had never pitched as many as 100 Major League innings in single season.
The Athletics shipped Pomeranz to San Diego this past winter for underachieving first baseman Yonder Alonso in a little-heralded deal. In San Diego, Pomeranz began throwing his curveball more, and voilà, he became a much more effective pitcher. He has thrown six or more shutout innings five times this year, and only twice has given up more than three runs in a start.
There are a few red flags with Pomeranz, the first being his luck. His Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) is very low at .240, fifth-lowest in baseball and 80.8% of his baserunners have been stranded, the eleventh-highest rate in baseball. He also has trouble throwing strikes, and has a high walk rate of 3.62 per-nine-innings. His FIP is higher than his ERA, but even at 3.18, that would be a huge improvement over what the Royals are getting.
He has been equally tough on lefties and righties and does not show much of a home/road split this year. The groundball pitcher has allowed just eight home runs this year, with a 47.8% groundball rate. Transitioning to the American League may be difficult, but he did have a 2.63 ERA in ten starts in 2014 with the A’s.
The Padres are not under the gun to move Pomeranz, so there will likely need a very attractive offer to consider dealing him with several controllable years left. Still, they may decide it is time to sell high on a pitcher no one thought would be an All-Star at the beginning of the year. The Padres have very little depth at third base, so Hunter Dozier could be very attractive to them. Pomeranz would be a gamble for the Royals - he has never thrown as many as 150 innings in a professional season. But with several controllable years, he makes more sense for a team that may not necessarily be in the hunt this year.