Young began the year in the Royals bullpen and then became a big part of the rotation off and on throughout the season. He finished with a 3.06 ERA in 123.1 innings pitched and an 11-6 record overall. His deal is reported to pay him $11.75 million over the next 2 seasons with incentives. He was picked up by Dayton Moore at the end of the free agent signing period last year for pennies and ultimately was reported to have earned upwards of $4.75 million in total contract after he hit escalators. This was money the Royals should have happily paid as he was an integral part of the first World Series trophy for Kansas City since 1985.
The wily veteran Young operates best if he is not expected to carry a club for 200+ innings of starting duty. This worked to perfection last year when he was able to come in and out of the pen througout the year, leaving him well rested for the playoffs. He most likely expects to be a part of the rotation exiting spring training this season however, and it is yet to be seen how Ned Yost and the front office intend on utilizing him. The 36 year old was the comeback player of the year for the AL in 2014 and showed once again in 2015 he still has plenty in the tank.
Joakim Soria returns to the Royals after undergoing his second Tommy John surgery at the end of the 2011 season. He ultimately signed a 2 year deal to head to Texas after that, and has also spent some time in Detroit and Pittsburg. Since departing, he has a 2.99 ERA in 135.2 innings pitched, including a 2.53 ERA last season. He will join an already dominant bullpen looking to fill a few holes with the departure of Ryan Madson who recently signed a 3 year deal with Oakland. The Royals will also be without closer Greg Holland who himself was forced to go under the knife for Tommy John surgery this last season.
During his previous time with the Royals from 2007-2011, Soria accumulated over 315 innings of work and had a 2.40 ERA. He struck out 9.7 batters per 9 in that time and became a dominant closer before his arm gave out. He has shown that he is close to returning to that form, and the Royals hope to have the old "Jack" back.
With Luke Hochevar returning to full strength, the return of Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis, and the addition of Soria, the Royals once again look to have the pieces in place to be a dominant force in the later innings.
Soria's contract is for 3 years and $25 million, which speaks to the change in recent seasons that has happened in the reliver market. Dayton Moore may be seeing the result of his own brand of baseball. Though Soria has been an excellent reliever, in todays market he has become one of the "very good." His 2.53 ERA in 2015 was good enough to rank only 43rd in relievers with 40 or more innings, and his 3.71 FIP ranked 93rd in the same demographic. Throw in his 2 Tommy John surgeries, and it becomes quite clear it is a good time to be a reliever in Major League Baseball looking for a free agent contract.
Also of note:
–The Royals are still rumored to be in the Alex Gordon mix
–Ben Zobrist is most likely gone. The years and dollars have priced Kansas City out.
–There has been some talk of the Royals being interested in Scott Kazmir. Kazmir had a 3.10 ERA in 31 starts for Oakland and Houston in 2015. After Jeff Samardzija signed a 5 year $90 million deal, it is yet to be seen what the rest of the pitching market will become, but it looks scary.
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