Jordan Lyles had one of the best seasons of his career in 2022. That was apparently more than enough for the Kansas City Royals to make a significant payout.
The Royals clearly need pitching. Lyles would help the back of their rotation in 2023 as they look to get their young starters more experience while determining which pieces could be part of a future core. That is essentially the crux of what Lyles is – a veteran innings eater who will provide five or six mediocre innings. The idea that the Royals could catch lightning in a bottle for a year as the Orioles did, and trade him at the deadline, would make sense.
Kansas City Royals light $17 million on fire
But that is not what the Royals did. Instead, they handed Lyles a two year deal worth $17 million to be a mediocre arm in the back of their rotation. The Royals already have Brad Keller, Daniel Lynch, Jonathan Heasley, Kris Bubic, and Carlos Hernandez who are capable of posting an ERA over 5.00 at a fraction of that cost.
Maybe Lyles can replicate his 2022 performance. He posted a 4.42 ERA and a 1.385 WHiP in his 179 innings, striking out 144 batters with 52 walks. Those numbers, as mediocre as they are, would have actually made Lyles their third best starter last season.
This does not mean that being the third base starter on the Royals last season was some sort of accomplishment. This also does not mean that spending $17 million for Lyles is a good investment, no matter how horrendous their pitching staff may be. He is not going to be the difference in the Royals making the postseason; if anything, he could be the difference in their winning 65 or 66 games next season.
Instead, that money could have been put to other uses. The Royals could have used that $17 million as part of an extension for one of their younger players. But the Royals had to overpay for a mediocre back of the rotation arm with a career 5.10 ERA. Lyles has also been the second worst pitcher in the majors with a minimum of 500 innings since the start of the 2010 season when he broke into the majors. Can’t put a price tag on that!
The Kansas City Royals are showing a commitment to mediocrity. Signing Jordan Lyles to a two year, $17 million contract fixes nothing.