The Kansas City Royals aren’t expected to compete this year, but are still acquiring assets to potentially become sellers at the trade deadline this summer. Clay Buchholz is a low-risk, high reward type of player for the club.
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Royals have signed 33-year-old Clay Buchholz to a minor league deal worth $1.5 million. The deal also includes a clause that allows the veteran righty to be released if he is not on the major league club by May 1 — similar to the deal the Dodgers gave reliever Brandon Morrow last year.
The Royals add some depth with Buchholz, who was a two-time All-Star during 10-season run with the Red Sox, but the veteran is recovering from a partially torn flexor pronator mass that sidelined him for almost all the 2017 season.
The good news for Buchholz is he’ll have a few months to get himself ready for MLB hitters, as he’ll likely start the season in Kansas City’s minor league system after only throwing 7.1 innings last year.
However, if the veteran does struggle during his minor league stint, it could end up costing him any real shot of making the big league club.
For the Royals, there isn’t much risk in the move. If Buchholz gets the majors and isn’t great, he’s still a solid depth pitcher to have in case of injury. But if Buchholz does revert back to his 2015 version, the Royals have a potential trade piece to sell at the deadline in exchange for prospects.
As Jeff Todd from MLB Trade Rumors points out, Buchholz was excellent towards the end of the 2016 season, finishing his last 44 innings with a 2.86 ERA. However, he has shown declining stuff on the mound walking 32 more batters in 2016 than he did in 2015.
The Royals are hoping Buchholz can at the very least provide depth to the roster in 2018, but if the veteran puts together another solid season, he could help the Royals expedite their rebuild this summer.