Royals Rumors: Mike Leake Could Plug Hole In Starting Rotation


Kansas City Royals rumors of adding another pitcher will continue to make the rounds if the starting pitching does not improve.

The Kansas City Royals’ bullpen has been nothing short of shutdown this season.

The starting rotation however has left a ton to be desired. As Joel Wagler wrote here on this site, four of five Royals’ starters have an ERA north of 5.00.

In case you are new to baseball — that’s not good.

Edinson Volquez has been the only consistent starter in the ERA department, as he checks in at 3.19 through seven starts as of Thursday, but is only 2-3. Chris Young is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA, but only in two spot starts.

Jason Vargas recently was placed on the disabled list, Danny Duffy has failed to pitch as well as he did last year, and if not for one of the best bullpens in MLB, Kansas City could actually be sitting behind the Tigers, and even Twins, in the AL Central, instead of leading it.

General Manager Dayton Moore has been lauded for his moves the past few offseasons, but it might be time to make a bold move in the regular season.

Enter Royals rumors.

Wagler said Oakland’s Scott Kazmir could be a good fit (although Lorenzo Cain may have something to say about it ), but there are others out there as well. One name mentioned along with Kazmir is Cincinnati’s Mike Leake.

The 27-year-old has posted a 55-43 record over five and a half seasons, all with the Reds. SB Nation’s MLB Daily Dish wrote last week that Leake could be a good option for the Royals after Buster Olney mentioned it on his weekly appearance with The Border Patrol on Sports Radio 810 WHB.

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It’s important to know that this is just Olney opining about who he thinks would fit well in Kansas City. There has been no formal talk of him coming to Kansas City, although Leake admitted last December that he “checks MLB trade rumors every day.

He avoided arbitration last year, then re-signed a one-year, $9.75 million deal with the Reds (a $3.8 million increase from the year before).

So far this season he is 2-1 with a 3.16 ERA and an outstanding 0.96 WHIP. He is third in the National League in innings pitched with 49 2/3, fifth in hits per nine innings, and has one complete game. According to mlbtraderumors.com, that was his final year of arbitration eligibility and “he will be able to hit the open market next year.”

That would be a concern if the Royals made a move for him, and he decided to sign elsewhere next season. However, with a bullpen that basically turns a seventh-inning lead in to an automatic victory, strengthening the starting rotation could be key to a World Series run this season.

Although it’s arguable that the 2015 Royals are better than the 2014 AL Champs, a return trip to the World Series is no guarantee. Only three teams (Yankees, Rangers, and Phillies) have gone in back-to-back seasons since 2000.

As MLB Daily Dish reported, it would most likely take minor leaguers to make a deal for someone like Leake, something Moore would be hesitant to do after relying so much on home-grown talent.

Other factors include where the Reds will be in the standings when the July 30 trade deadline nears. They currently are 18-17, but it seems like the St. Louis Cardinals may run away with the division, and the Cubs should be in the mix as well.

With Homer Bailey out indefinitely with a serious elbow injury, it might make sense for the Reds to save money and overhaul their staff.

KC manager Ned Yost is extremely loyal to his players, and won’t be replacing any of the starters without an injury or horrendous two months. However, right now Vargas in injured and although Guthrie has looked good lately, his overall numbers are still shaky.

Imagine a staff that included Yordano Ventura, Volquez, a 2014 version of Duffy (2.53 ERA), Young and Leake. It’s a little far-fetched at this point, but if things don’t get better for the rotation, something will have to be done.

Leake might be the answer.

Next: Scott Kazmir May Be Affordable Option

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