The Royals announced they have signed left-handed pitcher Ryan Yarbrough to a one-year deal. Kiley McDaniel of ESPN reports it is for $3 million with $1 million in incentives. The 30-year-old pitched in 80 innings for the Rays last year with a 4.50 ERA and 4.77 FIP and was non-tendered this fall. He spent five seasons with Tampa Bay, working with Matt Quatraro, and had a 4.33 ERA.
Yarbrough has worked as both a starter and reliever for the Rays. He won 16 games in his rookie season with a 3.91 ERA working as a swingman, and finished five in Rookie of the Year voting with 1.1 rWAR. He had a 3.94 ERA over his first three seasons, but a 4.90 ERA in the last two. He missed the first month of the season with a groin injury, and was demoted briefly in July for a lackluster performance.
Originally a fourth-round pick by the Mariners out of Old Dominion University, Yarbrough is a soft-tossing lefty with a fastball that sits at 86 mph, down a few ticks from where it was a few years ago. He relies more on a cutter and slider with a change-up for a four-pitch arsenal. He is a strike-thrower, with the ninth-best walk rate by any starting pitcher from 2018-2021 with at least 400 innings pitched, but his walk rate spiked to 2.48 per-nine-innings last year.
Pitcher Wyatt Mills was designated for assignment to make room for Yarbrough. The 27-year-old was acquired last summer from the Mariners in the Carlos Santana trade, and had a 4.79 ERA in 20 2/3 innings in relief for the Royals last year.
Yarbrough should compete in a rotation that likely includes Brady Singer and Daniel Lynch, and could also include Kris Bubic, Brad Keller, Jonathan Heasley, Carlos Hernandez, and Max Castillo. The Royals have been reported to be open to bringing back veteran Zack Greinke, but some reports indicated that his asking price may have gone up in the wake of the inflated free agent market. Picollo has said that he would like to add one or two starting pitchers through free agency.