Veteran right-handed pitcher Jeremy Guthrie sounds like a guy who can’t wait to join the Royals.
“I see a perfect fit there,” he said. “There’s a young corps of great baseball players in an organization that has been lauded recently for the moves and progress it’s made. I really hope to come in there and be a large part of any good things we can do in the near future.”
For Guthrie, just getting out of Colorado is a start — and that occurred Friday morning when the Royals and Rockies swapped disappointing starting pitchers. Left-hander Jonathan Sánchez is heading to Colorado.
Guthrie is scheduled to start Sunday’s game against the Twins. Everett Teaford, who was originally scheduled to start Sunday, has been moved back to the bullpen, and Will Smith will remain in the rotation.
The deal offers the chance for both players, and both teams, to reset after offseason trades that turned into disasters.
The Royals are getting, in Guthrie, a 33-year-old who, until this season, was a reliable innings-eater in Baltimore. But he was 3-9 with a 6.35 ERA for the Rockies after arriving in a Feb. 6, 2012 trade for pitchers Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom.
“You had two pitchers that didn’t work out the way it was expected when the season began,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. “It gives both of them a very fresh start. Certainly, Jonathan, we wish him the very best as he goes to Colorado. We’re expecting Jeremy to come in and do a very good job for us – to give us some innings and some stability. We think he’ll pitch much better the second half of the season.”
Guthrie sounded eager to move forward.
“The first thought,” Guthrie said, “is disappointment that I couldn’t hold up my end of the bargain in Colorado … I’ll just try to put what’s happened in the past 31/2 months behind me and learn from it but not let it affect what I’m able to do in going forward.”
The deal was confirmed just prior to 11 a.m. It was first reported by Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com.
Sánchez, 29, was designated for assignment Monday after a dreadful start against Seattle — seven runs in 11/3 innings — left him 1-6 with a 7.76 ERA. He came to the Royals in a Nov. 7, 2011 deal with pitcher Ryan Verdugo for outfielder Melky Cabrera.
Not only did Guthrie and Sánchez perform poorly for their new teams; players surrendered in the deals, Cabrera and Hammel, turned into solid contributers. Cabrera was picked as the Most Valuable Player last week in the All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals are paying $1.07 million in the exchange of contracts. Both will be free agents after the season.
Guthrie will look to regain his previous form: He averaged 10 victories and 202 innings with a 4.21 ERA in 32 starts for the Orioles from 2008-11.
“It’s a good deal,” manager Ned Yost said. “Every once in a while, a change of scenery helps somebody. It sure helped Felipe Paulino coming out of Colorado. We’re hoping it can do the same for Jeremy Guthrie.
“He has a good fastball, good slider, decent change and pretty good curveball. He threw a couple really good games against us last year. He really surprised me when he pitched with his stuff.”
The Royals continue to seek further veteran help for a rotation whose 5.43 ERA, entering the weekend, ranked 28th among the 30 teams. In particular, they show interest in several Cubs pitchers: Paul Maholm, Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster.
The Cubs acknowledge all three are available but the bidding, prior to the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline, is expected to be fierce.
One Royals official said the price for Garza or Dempster would likely include a top pitching prospect — that probably means Jake Odorizzi or Yordano Ventura – but Maholm might be more cost-friendly.
Maholm, 30, is a soft-throwing lefty who is 8-6 with a 4.09 ERA in 19 games. He is making $4.75 million this season with a club option for next season at $6.5 million — it is that potential control that makes him attractive to the Royals.
Guthrie’s biggest problems this year centered on Coors Field. He is 2-4 with a 3.67 ERA in 10 road games but 1-5 with a 9.50 ERA at the Rockies’ home park.
“The quality and character of his pitches was unchanged,” Moore said. “The velocity was as good or at times better than it had been in previous years. There are a lot of predictors there that you’d expect him to perform at a solid level.
“We tried to acquire him last offseason...We liked him in the past. The thing we noticed is that at times he was getting the ball up a little more, but hopefully he can make an adjustment and get a fresh start.”
Despite his poor numbers at home, Guthrie said that pitching at Coors Field didn’t affect his confidence.
“I wouldn’t call it a mental thing,” he said. “I went in there with a lot of confidence in each start…It was just one of those situations where whatever pitch I threw was usually the wrong pitch; whatever location I threw was usually the wrong location.
“I just never seemed to get better.”
So, yes, he’s looking forward to Kauffman Stadium.
“It’s obviously a large outfield,” Guthrie said, “which is good in terms of keeping the ball in the ballpark. I think it’s a very good pitcher’s park. With the defense that Kansas City has, obviously, it makes it even better. I’m excited to call that home.”
Moore is ready to see what Guthrie can do in Kansas City.
“Hopefully, we’ll get a pitcher that has something to prove as well and reestablishes himself,” Moore said. “That’s what we’re looking for.”