According to a report from Ken Rosenthal, the Kansas City Royals have been in talks with Yovani Gallardo and Ian Kennedy.
Sources: #Royals talking to Gallardo as well as Kennedy. Either would cost KC 1st-rounder. #Padres would get comp pick after 1st round.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 13, 2016
#Royals would not be thrilled about giving up their first-round pick, but they need a starter to help defend their World Series title.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 13, 2016
Rosenthal also points out that the Royals would have to surrender their first round pick in order to sign either of the free agents because of their qualifying offer.
Building through the draft has seemed to be a significant part of the Royals' plans. Luke Hochevar, Mike Moustakas, and Eric Hosmer all came in consecutive years via the first-round picks of the Royals. Furthermore, Sean Manaea and Brandon Finnegan were also drafted in the first-round and played integral roles in the Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto deals.
Royals Review tweeted out a short list of players that have recently been the 24th overall pick of the draft, which includes Randal Grichuk. While a depth first-round pick is by no means a sure-thing, some very good talent has still been found there.
The Royals rotation, which consists of Edinson Volquez, Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy, Kris Medlen, and Chris Young, won't rank among the best in the league by any means. Jason Vargas is also a supposed member of that rotation, but is recovering from Tommy John surgery and could be out for the entirety of the 2016 season.
Gallardo, who is going into his age-30 season, is coming off of a 4.02 DRA season. His 2.2 WARP was the best he's posted in the last three seasons, however, his FIP was very barely above league average. His ability to induce groundballs at an above average clip could make him a more expensive option.
Kennedy on the other hand, had one of the highest flyball rates of any pitcher last season. The perceived issue with Kennedy is his home run problem. Playing in Petco Park is supposed to suppress home runs, however, Kennedy posted a 17.2 home run per flyball rate. Well above his career norm, Kennedy should be expected to regress from that and could benefit from such an elite defensive outfield and large park if the Royals do happen to sign him. He could also come at a cheaper price than Gallardo.