As Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports, the Royals have interest in Braves left-hander Jaime Garcia and other rental pitchers as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches.
Kansas City, which sits three games out of the AL Central lead and 1.5 games out of the second AL Wild Card spot heading into the start of the second half on Friday, is unlikely to get fifth starter Nate Karns back this season as he deals with what’s believed to be thoracic outlet syndrome. Their lack of rotation depth was already exposed earlier this year when Danny Duffy missed time with an injury, so they’ll almost surely need to add another starter if they plan on making a playoff run.
Garcia, 31, has been average at best this season, posting a 4.55 ERA with a 1.35 WHIP, 75 strikeouts, and 37 walks in 99 innings. He’s struggled mightily as of late and has a 6.87 ERA with a .313 opponent batting average since the beginning of June. Garcia has done a good job of eating innings for Atlanta, though, lasting an average of 6.1 innings per start, and it’s possible that he could find additional success in a more limited role.
Garcia has a chance to thrive under the watch of Royals manager Ned Yost and pitching coach Dave Eiland, who have a tendency to pull their starters at the first sign of trouble and let the bullpen finish the job. He’s been exceptional in his first turn through the lineup this season, holding opposing hitters to a .195/.245/.293 slash line the first time he faces them. That slash line increases to .266/.338/.445 the second time through the lineup, then inflates to an abysmal .330/.413/.594 the third time through the order. Kansas City has several relievers—most notably Mike Minor and Scott Alexander—who can successfully navigate multiple innings, so they could more comfortably remove Garcia in the fourth or fifth inning without consequence.
Kansas City can’t afford to take on large multi-year contracts via trade right now, because they’ll need all the available cash they can muster to try and re-sign pending free agents Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, and Jason Vargas. That makes Garcia a good match for them, as he’ll be a free agent after this season.
Since he’s a pending free agent and has slightly underperformed this season, Garcia likely won’t command more than a mid-level prospect or two in a trade. Kansas City has plenty of those, so they should be able to work out a deal if he’s indeed at the top of their starting pitcher wish list.
Other pending free-agent starters who could be available at the deadline include Lance Lynn, Marco Estrada, Francisco Liriano, Andrew Cashner, and Jhoulys Chacin.