The Royals announced on Tuesday afternoon that they have come to terms with outfielder Justin Maxwell on a one year contract, thus avoiding the rest of the arbitration process. The Kansas City Star’s Pete Grathoff tweeted that the contract was worth $1.325 million, which is just below the midpoint of what the two sides were asking for when they filed figures on Friday. Maxwell’s number was $1.7 million, and the team had offered $1.075.
Coming to the Royals at the trade deadline last season, Maxwell made a big impact at the plate, putting up a 134 wRC+ and 5 home runs in just 111 plate appearances. He provided significant power from the right side, especially off the bench in later innings. If you need proof of that – or would just like to smile – take a look at this video of Maxwell’s walkoff grand slam against the Rangers in the final home game of the season. Then watch it again. And maybe one or eight more times.
In 2014, Maxwell figures to be in a tight competition with Jarrod Dyson for the 4th outfielder spot on the roster. Personally, I’d love to see both players remain in Kansas City since they both offer a terrific skillset off the bench. However, I doubt the Royals are willing to go with a 6-man bullpen, so it’s more likely that one of them finds himself in a different uniform before Opening Day. With Danny Valencia‘s right-handed power bat in the fold, my guess is that Maxwell will receive his new paychecks from another team, likely after a trade at some point during spring training.
With Maxwell now signed, only Greg Holland and Aaron Crow remain among the Royals’ arbitration-eligible players. In Holland’s case, the two sides are $1.1 million apart, while the Royals offered Crow an amount about $420K less than what Crow asked for. Regardless, I would expect both players to agree to terms within a week or so. We mentioned this on the podcast, but players and teams should do whatever it takes to avoid getting to an arbitration hearing. Teams tell their player, basically, that he’s not all that good and they don’t want to pay him an extra few hundred thousand dollars. That kind of situation can lead to some hard feelings, especially if the player loses his case, which could lead to him being reluctant to stick around when he approaches free agency. It just makes more sense for both sides to agree to a contract before it gets to what could be a very dangerous tipping point. That, combined with Dayton Moore’s track record, tells me the Royals intend to get both Holland and Crow signed soon.