SURPRISE, Ariz. -- If fans are wondering why the Royals, a team seemingly deep in a rebuild, were interested in veteran right-hander Homer Bailey, there are a few reasons.Obviously, Bailey, 32, provides a cheap alternative to the rotation. The Royals will pay him the MLB minimum while the rest of
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- If fans are wondering why the Royals, a team seemingly deep in a rebuild, were interested in veteran right-hander Homer Bailey, there are a few reasons.
Obviously, Bailey, 32, provides a cheap alternative to the rotation. The Royals will pay him the MLB minimum while the rest of what is owed him on his contract ($28 million) will be paid by the Dodgers, who released him in December after acquiring him from the Reds.
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"There's basically no risk," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said, "with a lot of upside."
Also, while the Royals have been good at finding reclamation projects in the past (Ryan Madson, Chris Young, Kendrys Morales, etc.) Moore pointed out that the club simply needs more veteran experience in the rotation.
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Bailey certainly qualifies as a reclamation project. Once a star for the Reds, Bailey has two no-hitters on his resume and during the stretch of 2012-14, he never posted an ERA above 3.71.
But three elbow surgeries derailed his career. In his previous three seasons, Bailey hasn't been able to get his ERA under 6.00.
Yet, Royals scouts Gene Watson, who saw Bailey pitch a simulated game in the offseason, and Tim Conroy, pushed hard for the acquisition. Conroy, who lives in Pittsburgh, saw Bailey pitch his final game of 2018 against the Pirates -- five innings, three runs, four strikeouts -- and Conroy saw a spiked velocity that touched 97 mph.
"Tim was beating the table [to acquire him]," Moore said.
Moore and manager Ned Yost are adamant that signing Bailey won't block any of their other young pitchers who need opportunity.
"There's a lot of innings that have to be pitched and be covered over a Major League season," Moore said. "... We weren't going to bring anyone in that we would commit to financially long term to prohibit opportunity for the younger guys."
Bailey has one year left on his deal.
Yet another factor was the suspension of left-hander Eric Skoglund, who is out 80 games without pay for being in violation of Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
Skoglund figured to be among the 10 rotation candidates that Yost intends to stretch out in early camp, along with Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, Jakob Junis, Brad Keller, Jorge López, Heath Fillmyer, Scott Blewett, Trevor Oaks and Scott Barlow.
With Skoglund out, an opening occurred.
"[Bailey] has had success in the past," Moore said. "That is something we take into strong consideration. We're trying to add depth. We trust and like him. We did our homework on him. He can pitch well at our ballpark."
Bailey said there were other offers but wouldn't divulge how many or who they came from.
"When you put up a six [ERA]," Bailey joked, "you're not going to be wearing pinstripes anytime soon. You have to be realistic."
Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.