Veteran lefty Bruce Chen has been a reliable, crafty innings-eater for the Kansas City Royals since 2009, but his time with the franchise could be reaching its end. The Royals’ 2013 playoff hopes are finally shot, and as the season comes to a conclusion, rumors and hearsay about next year begin to spread. Now, as this up-and-coming ball club looks forward to a bright future, many fans wonder if Bruce will be a part of KC’s plans moving forward.
Chen threw 114 1/3 innings this year, and recorded an ERA of 3.31. Only Chen’s 2000 season yielded a lower ERA from more than 50 innings pitched. He led the Royals’ starting five in wins every season from 2010 to 2012, and only Luke Hochevar has recorded more innings pitched for KC since Chen’s arrival in 2009. After his fifth season in Kansas City, Chen will enter 2014 as a free agent along with fellow Royals starter, Ervin Santana.
The Royals presumably won’t plan to invest in a free agent starter next year, considering the money they’ve already spent and their long list of talented, young pitching prospects. The club must also exercise caution with their checkbooks in order to (at least try to) re-sign James Shields after the 2014 season. If they do shell out some dough, it would most likely go to Santana, whose success in 2013 will inevitably earn him a huge contract. However, Chen may come cheaper than expected thanks to his genuine enjoyment of playing in Kansas City. At this point, it seems his future with the team depends on how much of a home-town discount he’s willing to take.
As for the man himself, Kansas City’s favorite Asian Panamanian sounded cautious but hopeful when addressing the media this week about his future with the ball club:
“I like it here, and I’d like to see if hopefully we can get something done here, but definitely we’re going to keep Kansas City in our options. We have a very good team here – a good defense, a good offense – and hopefully we can work something out.”