The Royals beat tomorrow night’s deadline by agreeing to terms with pitcher Felipe Paulino on a one-year deal for 2013 to avoid arbitration.
Paulino had been projected by MLB Trade Rumors to make $2.7 million in arbitration, but the deal’s value came in at $1.75 million, a cut from last year’s $1.90 million. Bob Dutton of the Star reported that incentives in the deal could increase the value to $2 million. Paulino’s Tommy John surgery and questions related to his rehab timetable had to have led to his pay cut.
In seven starts last year, Paulino threw 37.2 innings and had a 1.67 ERA. In five of those seven starts, he surrendered no earned runs – however, his final start only lasted 0.2 innings, as he left the game with an apparent groin injury suffered while fielding an infield dribbler. He went on the disabled list and, after some rehab starts, found the tear in the UCL, necessitating surgery.
While he was healthy, Paulino had struck out 25% of the batters he faced in 2012, walking just 9.6%. Paulino started his throwing program this week and is hoping to get to a minor league rehab assignment in late May according to MLB.com, which would put him on track for a return to the big leagues in late-June, barring further complications.
The Royals have two more players eligible for arbitration – Chris Getz and Luke Hochevar. Paulino’s signing shouldn’t impact Getz in any way, but with the Royals looking for more pitching, and with a projected $4.4 million salary for Hochevar next year, it seems something’s got to give. Hochevar’s performance has been poor through his entire Royals career and he’s getting expensive. He’ll also tie up a 40 man roster spot if they tender him a contract. They’ll want that spot for another starter at some point, whether it be by trade or free agent signing.