The Royals have been “surprisingly aggressive in trying to add starting pitching” according to a report from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. He writes they are looking to add two starters, and that one could come through a trade, with the team reportedly engaged in talks with the Mariners and Marlins over their young starting pitchers. According to Rosenthal, Vinnie Pasquantino, Maikel Garcia, and Bobby Witt Jr. are likely off-limits, but MJ Melendez, Michael Massey, and Freddy Fermin are among the players that could be part of a return, and that other teams are also interested in their minor league pitching.
The team is also active on the free agent market, having pursued Sonny Gray and Erick Fedde before they signed.
They likely will be active on the tier below the front-line starters, exploring pitchers such as Wacha, Lucas Giolito, Marcus Stroman and Seth Lugo. But the two-year, $26 million contract the Reds awarded Martinez elevated the market for those starters, several of whom are more accomplished. Which might require the Royals to make an uncomfortable trade.
The Marlins and Mariners each have a number of young starters that could be of interest to the Royals. Earlier reports indicated teams have been asking the Marlins about right-hander Edward Cabrera and lefty Trevor Rogers. Both pitchers would be under club control through 2026, and have had some success in the big leagues, although with mixed results. Rogers was an All-Star in 2021, but regressed the next year and made just four starts this year due to shoulder and bicep injuries. Cabrera has a 3.73 ERA and has been worth 3.9 rWAR in 34 starts the last two seasons, but also has the highest-walk rate in baseball over that time. The Marlins also have young pitchers Braxton Garrett and Jesús Luzardo, but are unlikely to move them, and Eury Perez is almost certainly off-limits.
The Mariners are likely to hold onto Luis Castillo and George Kirby, and they may be very reluctant to trade young pitchers Bryan Woo or Bryce Miller. But Logan Gilbert is a name that has come up in trade rumors. The 26-year-old has been a 3 WAR pitcher in each of the last two years, and this year he had a 3.73 ERA with a strikeout-per-inning and the fifth-lowest walk rate in baseball. Emerson Hancock is another name that could be available, as he is on the outside looking in for the rotation right now. The former first-round pick made his MLB debut this year, making three starts for the Mariners after posting a 4.32 ERA in 20 starts in Double-A.