The Royals may or may not be buyers at the August 1 trade deadline, but if they do decide to bring on another starting pitcher, struggling Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz could be an option. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports the Royals have interest in the right-hander who was recently demoted to the bullpen. Cafardo writes that the Red Sox would have to pick up a chunk of the salary owed Buchholz, about $6 million this season, plus a $500,000 buyout on a $13.5 million club option for next season.
Buchholz has been a terrific pitcher in the past, winning 17 games in 2010 and putting up a 4.3 WAR season as recently as 2013, according to Baseball Reference. He has struggled mightily since then, putting up a 5.34 ERA in 2014. He bounced back with a 3.26 ERA in 2015, but missed the final two months with an elbow injury, luckily avoiding Tommy John surgery. However he has been awful this year, with a 6.10 ERA in 82 2/3 innings. He was demoted to the bullpen at the end of May, and after rejoining the rotation for a few starts, was demoted again after the All-Star break.
Buchholz has the fifth-highest home run rate among starters with 80 innings pitched, just the sort of weakness the Royals would want to avoid right now. His strikeout rate is way down to 6.0 per-nine-innings, and his walk rate is way up to 4.0 per-nine-innings. His fastball, which has maintained its velocity, has gotten clobbered this year, one of the least effective fastballs in baseball.
Cafardo speculates the Royals could swap Luke Hochevar for Buchholz, which seems like a massively unfair trade considering the value Hochevar has now. It also makes little sense for the Royals to acquire a short-term option like Buchholz if they plan on selling valuable assets like Hochevar. So perhaps the Royals have interest in Buchholz as an option of last resort, or perhaps they have interest in trading Hochevar to the Red Sox, but almost certainly the two would not be involved in the same trade.
Cafardo also says the Royals could "swoop in" on Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson, who we wrote about here. He adds that the Royals will decide whether or not to be buyers or sellers after this homestand, which concludes on Wednesday after a series against the Angels.