The Kansas City Royals need pitching, and Bruce Chen was the one most accessible, willing to play in Kansas City and the one most familiar. However, it was also one of the worst signings of the MLB off-season if you ask Fangraph’s Dave Cameron. While it sits far down the list at No. 9 out of 10, it’s clear that any presence on this list isn’t a good thing.
Cameron writes, “Bruce Chen is 35-years-old and has been a below average pitcher for nearly his entire career, and he showed no real signs of improvement last year – his low ERA was essentially just about preventing hits with men on base. There’s no reason to think that Chen has turned a corner at this point in his career, and he’s still just a generic #5 starter nearing the end of his career. Better pitchers than Chen had to settle for minor league contracts. Meanwhile, the Royals decided to throw money at the type of pitcher that the rest of baseball has learned isn’t worth any kind of guarantee. For a team with a limited budget, efficiency is mandatory, and this isn’t a very good way to spend 10% of their overall budget.”
Chen was called a No. 5 starter in Cameron’s article, but for the Royals, he’s been the mark of decency for some time. He was 12-8 last season with a 3.77 ERA and pitched over 150 innings for the first time in four seasons. That might not cause the Rangers or Phillies to break the bank, but the Royals lack the options of other teams — especially ones who can provide predictable innings on the ML level.