The Royals have agreed to terms with free agent pitcher Michael Wacha on a two-year, $32 million deal, according to ESPN reporter Jeff Passan. The 32-year-old right-hander can opt out after the 2024 season.
Wacha has a career 3.96 ERA in 11 seasons in the big leagues, including a 3.22 ERA in 134 1⁄3 innings with the Padres last year. He began his career with the Cardinals and enjoyed some early success, winning NLCS MVP in 2013, and earning an All-Star appearance in 2015. But he battled shoulder injuries and ineffectiveness and he left for the Mets in 2020. After a poor year in New York during the shortened season, he revived his career with Tampa Bay in 2021 and enjoyed another solid season with Boston in 2022.
Wacha has improved his walk rates since leaving the Cardinals - his 6.6 percent walk rate since 2020 is one of the better rates among pitchers. He posts average strikeout rates and has become more of a flyball pitcher now. His turnaround has been fueled by greater use of his change up - one of the most valuable off-speed pitches in baseball the last two years. Opponents hit just .207 against it this year with a 35.9 percent whiff rate, and he threw it over a third of the time. He also mixes in a 92 mph four-seamer, a sinker, a cutter and a curve.
Wacha joins a rotation that includes former Padres teammate Seth Lugo, Cole Ragans, Brady Singer, and Jordan Lyles.