Starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, both with the Chicago Cubs, are being scouted by the Kansas City Royals, according to Robert Murray of Sports Rumor Report. Murray reports the Royals have interest in both pitchers but does not name a source.
Aaron Somers from Call To The Pen discusses both pitchers, and the teams interested, but does not mention the Royals as a candidate for a trade.
Jeff Samardzija has just 2 wins for the Cubs this season, coupled with 6 losses, but sports a nice 2.77 ERA and 1.176 with 82 strikeouts in 91 innings. Jason Hammel is 6-4, with a 2.81 ERA and .984 WHIP, with 76 strikeouts in 83.1 innings.
Both pitchers would be nice additions but the Royals are in much more need of a right fielder who can hit a few home runs. Kansas City hitting has been well of late, but it still lacks power and consistency.
The Royals fell to 24-28 on May 28th after a disastrous 3-game series at home against the Houston Astros. Kansas City was outscored in that series, 21-5.
After splitting a 4-game series on the road against the Toronto Blue Jays, The Royals have played very well, going 9-2 over the past 11 games, including a current 6-game winning streak.
According to MLB.com, going into Saturday’s game against the Chicago White Sox, the KC Royals have scored just 264 runs, 14th in the American League. Their 31 home runs is 13 less than the the team ranked 14th in the AL in homers, and 61 less than the league leading Blue Jays.
On the other hand, Royals’ pitcher have allowed 267 runs, the third best number in the league, and they have a 3.73 team ERA, also good for third in the league, and a 1.28 WHIP, 5th best in the AL.
Off season acquisition, right fielder Nori Aoki, has been a big disappointment for Kansas City. Aoki is hitting just .260 with a .320 On Base Percentage, 35 points below his career average. He has struck out 29 times already, after striking out just 40 times in 2013 for Milwaukee.
Getting Aoki for pitcher Will Smith seemed like a good deal at the time, filling a need from depth, but Aoki just hasn’t performed at the plate or in the field. In past weeks, he has been pulled late in games for defensive purposes.
So, with all of this data, why are the Royals looking at pitchers instead of hitters? The reasons may be twofold. There just may not be very many, if any, impact outfielders on the market. Secondly, the Royals probably could not afford the price of any impact bats that were available.
They may be scouting Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel just to establish a market value, or just doing their due diligence in case an injury should arise to their present rotation. If this is the case, that is just fine.
If they are working a deal, General Manager Dayton Moore would be better served to seek some offensive help. He shouldn’t waste top prospects by adding to a productive rotation (although there is always room for improvement).
If the Royals are going to make a big trade, it needs to be for a bat, preferably one that can hit the ball over the fence on a regular basis.