Hey, MLB teams. Looking for the starting pitcher who couldn’t cut it, and is being moved into a relief role?
Well, the Kansas City Royals might have just what you’re looking for — except it’s probably going to cost you:
Interesting (and surprising) on Hochevar: Teams that asked about trading for him were told Royals wanted quite a bit in return.
— DannyKnoblerCBS (@DannyKnoblerCBS) March 13, 2013
That relatively aged tweet would be referring to Luke Hochevar, of course, otherwise known as the $4.56 million bullpen arm with a 5.39/1.40 ERA/WHIP over a 771 major league innings as a failed starter. You might even call him one of the most notable first-overall draft busts of all time.
Still, that doesn’t mean the Royals are ready to sell low on the 29-year old because … well, I’m not sure, exactly. Maybe the team is waiting until Hochevar struggles in the bullpen before letting him go?
I suppose the team might have something of a point, though. It’s not that the righty is entirely devoid of value, even as a starter. He has thrown nearly 200 innings in each of the last two seasons, after all, and has been at least a 1.5 fWAR pitcher over each of the last four seasons due to his relatively decent control (2.20 K/BB), and a rather large 0.98 ERA/FIP split.
In fact, his 7.0 fWAR since 2009 puts him in a tie among the top 80 MLB pitchers in that span, which is a fact that’s fairly shock even as I’m putting the words on the screen.
So, maybe a change of scenery could actually turn those numbers into counting ones, and that’s why Kansas City isn’t eager to let their former top prospect leave yet?
In my estimation, the best biggest plus that Hochevar can provide (barring him turning into a Cliff Lee-type late bloomer) is the fact that he can eat innings consistently, and even if a lot of those innings are going to be dodgy, some teams will find value in having it.
Teams like the Colorado Rockies, obviously, who is the first name when it comes to mind these days when you talk about any starting pitcher. They’ve actually discussed a potential Hochevar trade with the Royals in the off-season, but nothing came of it, likely because of the asking price.
That said, it seems as though the Royals, faced with having too many back-end pitchers right now (Bruce Chen, Luis Mendoza), are motivated to make a deal on one of them, especially considering that both Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino will be back around the summer.
Before that logjam happens, perhaps the price on Hochevar will come down yet.