Despite their hot start at 17-10, suspensions, injuries, and poor performance by the rotation have tested the Kansas City Royals early on in 2015.
Their young and volatile phenom Yordano Ventura has been both hurt, pulling himself from two starts with cramps, and suspended after having run-ins with the Angels, Athletics, and White Sox. Veterans Jeremy Guthrie (6.52 ERA) and Jason Vargas (5.26 ERA) have both struggled through their first five starts. Danny Duffy, already struggling, was blown up and yanked early in Wednesday's game against the Tribe.
The current Royals rotation: Jeremy Guthrie, Jason Vargas, Edinson Volquez, Danny Duffy and Chris Young. Volquez is the only starter really holding his own, and there's no telling how long that might last.
What are they going to do about it?
So it comes as no surprise that the Royals could be interested in the starting pitching market, especially in light of last year's improbable postseason run and this season's surprising start.
Enter potential solutions. Scott Kazmir and Mike Leake are two starters the Royals could target, ESPN's Buster Olney told a Kansas City radio station Thursday.
Mike Leake has had a good start to the 2015 season, going 2-1 with a 2.47 ERA in his first six starts. Leake is on a one-year deal that should be very appealing to those looking at second-tier starting pitching. In a career rebirth, Scott Kazmir has also looked good to start 2015, also going 2-1, with a 2.75 ERA in six starts.
How likely is a deal?
Well, the Royals clearly have a pressing need at starting pitching. Even when they eventually get back Ventura, the team has some holes at the back-end of the rotation. The question is whether the Royals address the front end and go after someone like Cole Hamels, or try to backfill with options like Kazmir or Leake.
Here's a solution
It also depends on where the A's and Reds are sitting in the standings as the trade deadline approaches. The Reds are playing in the tough NL Central and after losing Homer Bailey for the season, it could be sell mode for the Reds.
The A's however are one of three teams expected to compete for the AL West crown and it may be harder for them to part with a starter while pushing for a playoff birth.
The Royals also don't have a ton of surplus at the major league level to trade, and would more than likely need to tap into their minor league system to add a piece.
While the legs are there for a trade to happen, there are a lot of moving parts on both sides. It may take some more time for all of this to shake out. File this one under "not enough information" for now.