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Sleeper free agent starting pitching options for Kansas City

Could the Royals target any of these pitchers for next season?

Mike Stobe

As the recent three-way deal between the Oakland Athletics, Arizona Diamondbacks and Miami Marlins reminds us, the offseason doesn’t start the moment the World Series is over—it starts when your season is over.

For the Kansas City Royals, the search for some sleeper free agent starting pitching options is likely already in full swing as the brass try to figure out how to improve on this year’s 72-90 finish. Here are a few options the Royals might consider:

1. Mike Pelfrey
Mike Pelfrey started the 2012 season well for the New York Mets before an elbow injury ended his season and forced him to have Tommy John surgery on May 1. He would pose some risk to the Royals coming back from this surgery, and he might not even be ready to go until after the All-Star Break, but he would certainly command less than the almost $5.7M he made in 2012 and so might be worth the risk.

2. Kevin Millwood
Kevin Millwood didn’t exactly light the world on fire this year with the Seattle Mariners, posting a 6-12 record and a 4.25 ERA. But he did average almost six innings a start and struck out almost twice as many batters as he walked, so he’s still decent. And with that performance, he can’t reasonably expect to ask for too much more than the $1M he was paid last year so, again, right up Kansas City’s alley.

3. Kevin Correia
Kevin Correia appears to have run his course with the Pittsburgh Pirates. After going 12-11 each of the past two seasons, combining for an ERA right around 4.50, with a WHIP just north of 1.30 and a K/BB ratio of almost 2-1, he might not be a sexy pickup for most teams, but he would be solid. He might want a slight increase over his $4M salary from last season, but not so much that the Royals couldn’t afford him.

4. Livan Hernandez
And if none of these guys work out? The ageless wonder, Livan Hernandez, could be desperate for a shot with the club (or any club for that matter). But the Royals shouldn’t go that route unless they end up being twice as desperate as he is likely to be.