Opinion

Next on Royals’ list is a starting pitcher; here’s who’s left on the free-agent market

Edinson Volquez went 13-7 with a 3.04 ERA in 31 starts for the Pirates a year after a horrible season with the Padres and Dodgers.
Edinson Volquez went 13-7 with a 3.04 ERA in 31 starts for the Pirates a year after a horrible season with the Padres and Dodgers. The Associated Press

(UPDATE: The Royals reportedly reached an agreement Wednesday with right-handed starter Edinson Volquez.)

Now that the Royals have found a designated hitter to replace Billy Butler and are close to setting a new right fielder in stone, they have one major item left on their offseason shopping list — a front-line starting pitcher.

Two of the top free agents — Jon Lester and Ervin Santana — are off the board. The consensus top two pitchers available — Max Scherzer and James Shields — are likely out of the Royals’ reach, although they say they continue to have discussions about bringing back Shields.

So who is left for the Royals to pursue? Here’s a rundown of the top available free agents (using rankings by CBSSports.com and others) and the top starting pitchers to already sign or agree to a new contract this offseason. A quick look reveals some possible fits for the Royals, like journeyman Aaron Harang, who was a surprise in Atlanta this season after being cut by the Indians, or Edinson Volquez, who also had a rebound season in 2014.

Top available free agents

RH Max Scherzer*: Made $15.525 million in 2014, 30 years old (18-5, 33 starts, 220 1/3 IP, 252 K, 63 BB, 3.15 ERA, 127 ERA+)

RH James Shields*: Made $13.5 million in 2014, 32 years old (14-8, 34 starts, 227 IP, 180 K, 44 BB, 3.21 ERA, 124 ERA+)

RH Hiroki Kuroda: Made $16 million in 2014, 39 years old (11-9, 32 starts, 199 IP, 146 K, 35 BB, 3.71 ERA, 104 ERA+)

RH Jake Peavy: Made $14.5 million in 2014, 33 years old (7-13, 32 starts, 202 2/3 IP, 158 K, 63 BB, 3.73 ERA, 100 ERA+)

RH Edinson Volquez: Made $5 million in 2014, 31 years old (13-7, 31 starts, 192 2/3 IP, 140 K, 71 BB, 3.04 ERA, 117 ERA+)

RH Ryan Vogelsong: Made $5 million in 2014, 37 years old (8-13, 32 starts, 184 2/3 IP, 151 K, 58 BB, 4.00 ERA, 87 ERA+)

RH Gavin Floyd: Made $4 million in 2014, 31 years old (2-2, 9 starts, 54 1/3 IP, 45 K, 13 BB, 2.65 ERA, 138 ERA+)

RH Aaron Harang: Made $1 million in 2014, 36 years old (12-12, 33 starts, 204 1/3 IP, 161 K, 71 BB, 3.57 ERA, 102 ERA+)

RH Chris Young: Made $1.25 million in 2014, 35 years old (12-9, 29 starts, 165 IP, 108 K, 60 BB, 3.65 ERA, 100 ERA+)

Already signed/agreed to terms

LH Jon Lester, $155 million, six years with Chicago Cubs

RH Ervin Santana, $55 million, four years with Minnesota

RH Brandon McCarthy, $48 million, four years with LA Dodgers (reportedly)

LH Francisco Liriano, $39 million, three years with Pittsburgh

RH Jason Hammel, $20 million, two years with Chicago Cubs

LH Brett Anderson, $10 million, one year with LA Dodgers (reportedly)

RH Justin Masterson: $9.5 million, one year with Boston

RH A.J. Burnett, $8.5 million, one year with Pittsburgh

RH Colby Lewis, $4 million, one year with Texas

RH Brandon Morrow, $2.5 million, one year with San Diego (reportedly)

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