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Royals Rumblings - News for December 14, 2023

Leth Sugo and Stris Chratton.

Arizona Diamondbacks v San Diego Padres Photo by Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images

Craig Brown at Into the Fountains evaluates the acquisitions of Seth Lugo and Chris Stratton:

This is a good signing for the Royals in the short-term, but I’m not a fan of that third year for Lugo because we just haven’t seen enough of him as a starter, despite one good season in the rotation, and because he just turned 34. Oh! He’s also pitching with a “slight” tear of his UCL, an injury he suffered back in 2017. At the time, he decided against Tommy John surgery, instead opting to undergo a platelet-rich plasma injection followed by rest. The ligament has held. Lugo had surgery for bone spurs in 2021, but that was unrelated to his UCL. He missed time last season with a calf strain, suffered in May in a start against the Royals.

It’s an overpay, but not an egregious one. The Royals may come to regret that third year, but this move definitely improves the rotation from what we saw last year. At this point, short-term improvement without sacrificing the future is the goal. This signing largely fits that bill.

Bradford Doolittle at ESPN grades the Lugo signing ($):

On this Royals depth chart, he’s probably being looked at as a No. 3, at least aspirationally. For that to become reality, Cole Ragans would have to prove his second-half breakout is for real and Brady Singer would need to have a bounce-back season. Neither scenario is far-fetched. If Lugo’s performance justifies a midrotation role for 145 to 165 innings, the $15 million in AAV is not a problem. It’s also a tradeable salary commitment if Lugo does well and the team does not.

You do have to worry about the performance, however. Lugo’s expected ERA in the Statcast framework was 4.42. He allowed career-worst barrel rates and average exit velocities. If we look at that 4.42 xERA as the “real” Lugo, that takes him to the wrong side of league average — and a bad trend for an older pitcher. Still, the Royals needed someone to take their money and if Lugo was willing to do it, they could have done worse.

It’s time for your weekly Royals winter-ball roundup! Let’s start in LIDOM:

  • Dairon Blanco started three games in left field and another in center this week, going 4-15 with a walk and six stolen bases. In 88 plate appearances he’s hitting .286/.349/.312. While his SLG looks absurdly low, LIDOM is a tough place to hit for power, and he’s made up for it somewhat by going 17-18 on stolen base attempts.
  • Diego Hernández made two starts in right field and one in left and went 1-8 with a couple stolen bags. In 98 plate appearances he’s hitting .221/.245/.305.
  • Daniel Lynch IV did not start a game this week.

Moving over to the Venezuelan Winter League (LVBP):

  • Max Castillo did not start a game this week.
  • Maikel Garcia continues raking, going 7-18 this week with a double, a homer, and a couple stolen bases. In 64 plate appearances he is hitting .453/.531/.660 with ten walks and just four strikeouts.
  • Edward Olivares went 3-11 with a couple stolen bases this week. He is hitting .309/.356/.441 in 73 plate appearances this winter.

Going across the Caribbean to the Puerto Rican Winter League (LBPRC):

  • Nelson Velázquez went 1-11 with a homer this week.

Finally, to the Australian Baseball League (ABL):

  • Jack Pineda played three games at shortstop, going 4-12 with a double and a homer. He has hit .268/.333/.390 in 45 plate appearances.
  • Milo Rushford played four games in center field this week. He went 2-12 with three walks and two stolen bases. In 66 plate appearances, he has hit .196/.318/.232. Evidently, they really like his defense in center as they’re running him out there every game despite his meek batting line.
  • Hyungchan Um made three starts behind the plate and went 5-11 with a double, a homer, and a couple walks. He is hitting .195/.250/.366 in 44 plate appearances.
  • Wesley Scott allowed three baserunners without recording an out in his first appearance this week before retiring the only batter he faced in the second.

Jackson County Commissioner Manny Abarca hosted a town hall concerning the future of the Royals and Chiefs.

Jon Becker at FanGraphs dives into the nuts and bolts of Shohei Ohtani’s new contract and its CBT ramifications, while Michael Baumann ponders how it may affect future free agent contracts.

Speaking of baseball’s biggest star and his unusual contract, he has an opt-out clause based on front office/ownership changes.

The Colorado Rockies are looking to join the 21st century with a new performance lab.

It is likely that Bill Belichick’s time in New England is drawing to a close.

Draymond Green has already been ejected from three games this season. The Golden State Warriors have played 28% of their schedule. He has now been suspended indefinitely as a result of the incident, which was him punching Jusuf Nurkić.

The NFL is adding Brazil to its international slate.

This week’s College Football Bottom 10 reviews the worst moments of the 2023 season.

A Swedish study found that hypochondriacs tend to die younger than the average person.

E3, America’s biggest gaming convention, is officially dead after having not been held in person since 2019.

Your song of the day is Are We Still Young by Grant and Jessi Mason.