This week the Kansas City Royals announced that they had signed Jeremy Guthrie to a three year contract. This is perhaps not a major coup, but there was a strong suggestion that Guthrie would be tempted elsewhere after the numbers he put up in the second half of the season made him a more valuable commodity.
Guthrie cited the Royals’ pitcher friendly ballpark and solid defence as reasons to stay in Kansas City and it appears that the only sticking point was ever going to be the length of the contract. Guthrie wanted a three year deal which is always a bit of a punt for a team when dealing with a player in his thirties. But Guthrie is a workhorse and the Royals were confident that a three year deal would be a good investment.
If Guthrie can put up numbers like he did with the Royals this season then it definitely will be a good move for the Royals; his 14 starts resulted in a 5-3 record and a 3.16 ERA. What is perhaps more promising for the Royals though is the knowledge that they can win in a free-agent competition without necessarily just throwing money around. Kauffman Stadium is a good place for pitchers to play and now that it is clear that the Royals are making progress toward a contending team they might be better able to turn the heads of other free agents.
Even if Guthrie is the best they can get in the free-agent market, however, (and that would be a bit disappointing) there is still the core of a much improved rotation now in place for next year. Bruce Chen and Ervin Santana will also be present, Jake Odorizzi will be given a chance and at some point in the year Felipe Paulino and Danny Duffy will return from Tommy John surgery. The Royals are still lacking a real ace, someone who will definitely pitch on Opening Day, but at least now they can be more comfortable with the middle of the rotation.