Former Cincinnati Reds general manager Jim Bowden has made a nice list of the top free agents for ESPN and his predicted value for each. With each listing, Bowden also gives his ideal fit for each player. Given the need for starting pitching, the Royals are among the favorites for several starters and we've already profiled C.J. Wilson and Edwin Jackson. But a couple others are on the list as favorites with names we've not yet heard linked to the team: Aaron Harang and Paul Maholm.
For both players, it would mean a jump to the American League and that might be the biggest obstacle to making it happen. Both players have played for last place teams before, Maholm with the Pirates for several seasons and Harang just pitched for a poor San Diego Padres club just last season. They both had solid years last year and Bowden expects both to command around $7 million per season. Harang has the higher upside but he's also had health issues and consistency problems. Maholm has been largely mediocre for some time, so no one is likely to get too excited about either.
Both, however, would represent a nice upgrade for the Kansas City Royals starters. Bowden likes Harang and says, "He had a nice comeback season with the Padres (3.64 ERA), and they would like to sign him back. However, he could price himself out of San Diego, and his fly ball tendencies make him a nice fit in a spacious park such as Comerica."
For Maholm, Bowden writes, "Maholm is a sleeper for someone. He's never reached his potential, but put him on the right team and he could become a consistent 12-13 game winner." Maholm is the better candidate given that he's still only 29.
Bowden also brings up names like Joel Piniero and Bruce Chen as potential signings and both are a good guess. Chen is already familiar and has had moderate success in KC. Piniero would be an ideal fifth starter type for the Royals.