The Royals agreed to terms with RHP Brad Thompson on a one-year minor league contract. Thompson could be an option at the back end of the Royals rotation, the bullpen or as minor league depth in 2010.
The front end of the Royals rotation figures to made up of Zack Grienke and Gil Meche. Trade rumors have swirled on and off about Brian Bannister who could be the team third starter. He finished the season 7-12 with a 4.73 ERA after dealing with should fatigue midway though August. Kyle Davies (22 starts) and Luke Hochevar (25 starts) also were parts of the rotation for the bulk of 2009 but after seasons in which neither right hander proved to be reliable starters there’s cause for concern.
Davies regressed last season seeing his record go from 9-7 to 8-9 while his ERA rose from 4.06 to 5.27. Hochevar who has now spent two seasons in the Royals rotation has a career line of 13-26 with a 5.88 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP in 284.2 big league innings.
As a minor league free agent, Thompson was able to agree to a contract before Friday. The contract doesn’t include a spot on Kansas City’s 40-man roster, but he stands a pretty good chance of making the roster out of spring training, whether it’s as the teams fifth starter or out of the bullpen. Thompson, 28, had a 4.36 ERA in parts of five seasons with the St. Louis, including a 4.84 ERA in 32 appearances (eight starts) in 2009.
In five years with the Cardinals, Thompson compiled a 21-17 record and 4.36 ERA in 185 games (32 starts). He posted his best numbers as a rookie in 2005 when he was 4-0 with a 2.95 ERA and his only big league save in 40 relief appearances.
This trade doesn’t exactly make the Royals any more of a threat in 2010 but it does give them options. They aren’t as far from the top of the AL Central as last season suggests and while Thompson isn’t a big name the fact that they got him on a minor league contract makes this a low risk high reward for the Royals. In the Royals Thompson gets a chance to showcase himself as starting pitcher. With decent career numbers he could put himself in line for a multi-year deal next off season.