Signing minor league pitching depth has begun for the KC Royals, much like it did for the 2015 season (with the additions of Joe Blanton, Franklin Morales, and Ryan Madson).
After trading away five upper level starting pitchers at the July trading deadline, the pitching cabinets are a little bare. Combine that with the exits of late season signee Paul Clemens and JC Sulbaran (who recently signed with St. Louis) and it has gotten worse.
On Monday, it was announced that the Royals signed Dillon Gee, a pitcher for the NY Mets who the Royals were interested in at the last two trading deadlines. This time though, the Royals did not have to give anything away: just a minor league deal. They did have to lure him away from Major League offers from rebuilding teams.
However, there is a catch. If he is not added to the Royals 40-man roster by March 2nd (the day spring training games begin), Gee can opt out of his contract. So he may never actually pitch in a game wearing a Royals uniform. Also, his contract, laced with incentives, could earn him more than $5.3 million.
Gee lost his spot in the Mets rotation to Noah Syndergaard due to poor numbers in 2015 (5.90 ERA in eight games) and became a free agent after being outrighted at midseason. He dealt with groin issues in 2015 and spent a good chunk of the season in the minors. He went 8-3 at Triple-A Las Vegas with a 4.58 ERA in 14 starts (two complete games). At the hitter friendly ballpark (and league), he allowed seven home runs and 105 hits, but walked just 18 compared to 63 strikeouts in 88.1 innings.
Gee is just 29 years old and could fit into the Royals plans as a fifth starter or a middle reliever.