The Royals have signed 32-year old right-handed pitcher Homer Bailey to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. Bailey has spent 12 years in the big leagues, all with the Cincinnati Reds, winning 67 games with a 4.56 ERA and 4.0 WAR, according to Baseball Reference.
Bailey was a promising top prospect ranked as high as #8 in baseball, who got off to a rough start to his career. But by 2012 he was putting up a 3.68 ERA in 33 starts with 1.9 WAR for the Reds. He followed that up with a 3.0 WAR season the next year, leading the Reds to ink him to a six-year, $105 million deal. He made just 23 starts in 2014, getting shut down with forearm fatigue, and was diagnosed with a torn UCL in 2015, leading to Tommy John surgery. He had setbacks in his recovery, getting elbow surgery in 2016 to remove bone spurs. He made 20 starts last year, but with a 6.09 ERA and a dismal 1-14 record, and was -1.5 WAR. This off-season, the Reds dealt him to the Dodgers in a financial deal in which the Dodgers immediately released Bailey.
The Royals will not be obligated to pay the remainder of Bailey’s deal, now considered one of the worst ever for a pitcher. The Royals will owe him just the league minimum, with the Dodgers and the Reds on the hook for the rest of his deal. With pretty much zero obligation, it makes sense to bring in a veteran just to see if he has anything left in the tank, to compete for the fifth spot in the rotation with Jorge Lopez, Heath Fillmyer, Trevor Oaks, and a few other potential starters. Bailey has an opt-out in his deal that can be exercised on March 25, according to MLB.com reporter Jeffrey Flanagan.