Jeremy Guthrie must have totally made a good impression on the Royals after coming over from the Rockies last summer, as Dayton Moore’s team has signed the right-handed starter to a three-year deal worth $25 million. At one point Guthrie was rumored to have wanted something in the three-year, $34 million range, but apparently one quick look at his driver’s license was enough to rectify his brief brush with insanity. Then again, it’s not like he didn’t get a very handsome payday anyway despite falling short of his intended target.
Guthrie found himself in Kansas City after failing miserably in treacherous Coors Field; Guthrie was the owner of a 6.35 ERA, 1.68 WHIP, and 2.1 HR/9 in 90 2/3 innings for Colorado. For the Royals, he was significantly better, posting a 3.16 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 0.9 HR/9 in 91 IP. Regardless of the ballpark you put him in, Guthrie doesn’t miss bats. His strikeout rate hasn’t touched six batters per nine since 2007, but he has traditionally posted solid walk rates. Guthrie’s also a fly ball pitcher, which isn’t one of the characteristics on the Coors Field Success checklist.
Poor 2012 aside–and really that was just half a season–Guthrie has been a dependable source of boring seasons that cast him as some sort of three or four starter when things are going right. Per FanGraphs, Guthrie has never cracked the 2.6 WAR mark in his career, and he isn’t likely to start now. His presence makes the Royals’ rotation better, but this signing feels extraneous and inappropriate. Guthrie seems more like a decent piece on a team that’s close and needs a bit of rotation help, not a key free agent signing for a team trying to claw its way back to relevance year after year. This is a disappointing signing; if you want someone just to clog up the back of the rotation and fill innings, you don’t have to spend $25 million.
I’m seriously curious what the market was for Guthrie, as he is already 33 and it doesn’t really seem like he was in line for a three-year deal. The Royals do need to pick and choose veterans to assume roles the youngsters can’t in order to a better team sooner, but Jeremy Guthrie doesn’t do anything to get the team closer to its actual goal. It’s getting harder to understand exactly what Moore wants for his team.