The Royals have already pulled off one surprising trade this week, but reportedly they are not finished. The team would like to add more pitching depth, possibly even another starter that would allow them to move Trevor Cahill to the bullpen as a swingman. The Miami Marlins have reportedly told teams they are making some players available, and Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports the Royals are interested in starting pitcher Dan Straily.
The Royals were rumored to be interested in Straily last year, when he was still a member of the Cincinnati Reds. Straily had bounced around the league for a bit before landing with the Reds and having a career year in 2016, posting a 3.76 ERA in 191 1⁄3 innings, although with a 4.88 FIP.
Last winter, he was dealt to the Marlins for three prospects, including one of Miami’s top pitching prospects, Luis Castillo. He has continued his success on South Beach with a respectable 3.84 ERA and 4.38 FIP, and he has increased his strikeout rate to 8.21 per-nine innings, while improving his walk rate to 2.53 per-nine innings. Straily has been a bit BABIP-lucky the last two seasons, but he misses bats and throws one of the most effective sliders in baseball, according to Fangraphs.
Straily is an extreme fly-ball pitcher, with the highest-rate in baseball over the past two seasons. This has given him some trouble with the long ball, and he has the second-highest home run rate in baseball over that time. That is not a product of pitching in a bandbox in Cincinnati and in Miami, either, his road home run numbers are actually worse.
Still, Kauffman Stadium has been one of the best parks at suppressing home runs, so a move to Kansas City could help him like it helped Ian Kennedy. Like Kennedy, Straily seeks to get “rise” on his fastball, to induce poor contact on pop-ups. He is well-versed in analytics, using them to help with his mechanics.
Like the other pitchers the Royals have been connected with, Straily is not a sexy option. But he is cheap, not eligible for arbitration for the first time until this winter, and controllable for many years, not earning his free agency until after the 2020 season. It may take a top Royals pitching prospect to get Straily, but they could certainly get him with the talent they have in their system. Straily has his warts, but he seems like a better option than some of the rentals available if the price is right.