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Smash or Pass: Daniel Lynch

It’s not working out in Kansas City for the former hot prospect.

Detroit Tigers v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Who is he and where does he come from?

Daniel Lynch is a former first-round pick by the Kansas City Royals. He’s a lefty with a Chris Sale-like frame, plus twenty or so pounds. Considered a top prospect throughout his time in the minors, he debuted in 2021 and has bounced back and forth between the majors and minors since then.

Is he any good?

Lynch has thrown 252 innings in the big leagues over three years and has a 5.18 ERA to show for it. If you want to close the tab and read something else, I wouldn’t blame you at all. That being said, I’m a believer that you shouldn’t judge a pitcher by their overall stats, but rather by their individual pitches.

In doing so, the fastball is typically the best place to start. Lynch has an interesting fastball, in that he commands it very well, but its other characteristics aren’t overly impressive. Elite extension helps the pedestrian velocity (93 MPH) play up a bit, but the movement and attack angle aren’t doing him any favors. He was dealing with a shoulder injury last season, so I’d expect velocity gains going forward. I also wonder if dropping his release point slightly could help the shape of the pitch, adding some arm-side run and keeping the approach angle a little flatter. Easier said than done, but an adjustment could go a long way.

Next, we’ll look at his primary, and best of-fspeed pitch, his changeup. It doesn’t have a crazy movement profile, but it’s deceptive and earns whiffs. His command of the pitch is questionable; if he can keep the ball down, it can be a decent offering. Even with poor locations, it performed well, giving me hope that there’s room for growth there.

The lefties’ third offering is a slider, and it’s not a good one. It’s weirdly in between a traditional slider and a cutter with suspect command. I don’t think it’s necessarily a lost cause, but it needs tweaks to be a major-league pitch. Maybe adding a cutter and finding a way to get some drop on the slider to separate the two pitches could add another dimension to his arsenal. Kind of like Eduardo Rodriguez, but younger.

Long story short, Lynch isn’t good right now. He’s a dart throw who could become a solid big leaguer in the right situation. Obviously, it isn’t working out in Kansas City, but maybe a change of scenery is what he needs to tap into that first-round potential that got him here in the first place.

Why would he be a good fit for the 2024 Red Sox?

Like it or not, the Red Sox aren’t major players in the free agent market this off-season. Still, reports say they’re interested in acquiring a controllable rotation piece. Daniel Lynch is exactly that. He’s already 27 but has yet to hit arbitration, making him fairly cheap for the foreseeable future.

Unfortunately, the Red Sox seem to be headed toward another bridge year. Whether that should be the case following the “full throttle” comment is a different conversation. If they aren’t going all in, and are instead waiting for the likes of Mayer, Anthony, and Teel to reach the majors before putting their chips on the table, Lynch makes a ton of sense. He’s controllable and has a ceiling of a mid-rotation starter, even if he hasn’t put it all together so far. He’s also a 6’6” lefty; those don’t grow on trees.

Why would he not be a good fit for the 2024 Red Sox?

It’s easy to forget that the 2023 Red Sox were just a few games out of the playoffs at the trade deadline last season. They didn’t acquire reinforcements, the bullpen ran out of gas, and the wheels fell off down the stretch. With more innings from the starting rotation, they could have remained in the mix until the end, and in baseball, you never know what’s going to happen. Hell, the 84-win Diamondbacks made the World Series. If the Red Sox want to avoid a situation like last year, they need quality innings. While Lynch is talented, he’s far from a sure thing.

What would he cost?

I have no idea. I don’t even know if he’s available. I quite literally have never spoken to anyone that I would even consider “a source”, except for the time I said hello to Jahmai Webster. This is all just me speculating that maybe the Royals would like to move a young player they haven’t been able to get the most out of. Maybe Bobby Dalbec goes back the other way. He’d look good in Royal blue.

What the hell was that paragraph? You call yourself a journalist?

No, I’m just some guy who spends way too much time looking at pitching stats and watching random old starts.

Smash or pass?

The Red Sox are looking for controllable arms, and don’t seem willing to part with any of their top-end prospects for one of the bigger names. If I see one more mock trade for Jesus Luzardo on Twitter, I’m going to lose it. If you’re browsing RosterResource looking for a controllable pitcher at a discount, you’re not going to find many impressive names. As far as slightly worn, bargain-bin pitchers go, Lynch is a solid option. He commands his fastball incredibly well and his changeup has been a great pitch at times. If he can figure out the slider, or another third offering, he can stick in a Major League rotation. He’s probably not going to be a frontline starter, but with the right coaching, he could be a productive big leaguer.

Trading for a pitcher with a career ERA over five might be enough to cause fans to lay siege to Fenway Park. I get it; on the surface, Lynch is less than inspiring for a team that promised to hit the gas pedal, and this move would be akin to putting it in neutral on a slight decline. If you look under the hood though, you can see a pitcher with some discernible skills. Seriously, watch some starts from last year and see how consistently he hits his spots with his fastball. It seems minor, but it jumps out. He’s off the shelf the Red Sox are looking at, and in the right situation, he might flourish.

If you made it this far, thanks for sticking with me. You’ve probably learned more about Daniel Lynch than you’ll ever need to know, and he probably won’t play for our beloved Red Sox. If he does wind up in Boston and still stinks, feel free to come back here and yell at me for putting the thought in the ether. I deserve it. If he shows up and succeeds, come back here and follow me on Twitter, that’s all I ask.