The Royals announced they have signed 29-year old right-hander Daniel Mengden to a minor league deal. Mengden spent five years pitching for Oakland, making 48 starts and 12 relief appearances with a 4.64 ERA in 302 2⁄3 innings. He spent last year in Korea pitching for the Kia Tigers, where he posted a 3.60 ERA in 21 starts with 104 strikeouts in 120 innings.
Mengden was originally a fourth-round pick by the Astros in 2014 out of Texas A&M. He was shipped to the A’s in 2015 in a deal for pitcher Scott Kazmir. Mengden had some success late in 2017, tossing a complete game two-hit shutout against the Phillies and posting a 3.14 ERA in seven starts. He followed that up with decent results with a 4.05 ERA in a career-high 115 2⁄3 innings in 2018. But he wasn’t able to build on that success in 2019, and he required elbow surgery following the season. He was limited to just 12 1⁄3 innings in 2020 before heading to Korea.
Mengden has not been much of a strikeout pitcher, with a fastball just a hair over 90 mph. A low strikeout rate coupled with a high walk rate is difficult to overcome, an Mengden will have to throw strikes to have success. He has added to his arsenal, and will have to rely on hitting spots and mixing in different pitches.
A few pitchers have gone to Korea and returned with more success, so the gamble is not a bad one for the Royals to take. Mengden has experience starting and can give them another rotation option, or they can find out if he can enjoy more success amping his velocity up in the bullpen.