Kansas City Royals: Royals Avoid Arbitration With Nate Karns

KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 3: Nathan Karns
KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 3: Nathan Karns /

The time for arbitration salaries to be figured out has come for the Kansas City Royals.  This is also the time to get an idea as to expectations a team has for a player. After Nate Karns finalized his contract it seems the Royals have high expectations for the pitcher.

When the Kansas City Royals traded beloved outfielder Jarrod Dyson to the Seattle Mariners for right-hand pitcher Nate Karns, he came with the expectation of being a starter. That trade was a hard pill to swallow for some because of what Dyson means to the Royals. However, when looking at the team in a logistical way, it made sense.

The biggest concern for Karns when the Royals acquired him was his health. Throughout his entire career, he seemingly ends his season early with an injury of some kind. The Royals were hoping that the promising pitcher would move past that stigma and become a relevant piece to the rotation.

In 2017, Karns seemed to be just what the Royals had hoped for. As a starter, he impressed a lot of people. He posted a 3.55 ERA, had a 10.2 K/9 (strikeouts per nine innings) and just a 2.3 BB/9 (walks per nine innings). He also had a 4.45:1 K/BB ratio (strikeout to walk ratio). Opponents were hitting just .231 over his eight starts and had just 15 extra base hits. Of his eight starts, he went at least six innings in four of them. No matter how you slice this, that is impressive.

Unfortunately for the Royals, Karns threw his last pitch for the 2017 season on May 19th against the Minnesota Twins. Karns had thoracic outlet syndrome surgery, which resulted in a season-ending surgery on July 19th. On August 12th Karns said, “I’m moving my arm around, no pain, no setbacks.” and that he “feel’s great”.

On January 12th, Jeffrey Flanagan tweeted out that Karns, who is arbitration eligible, and the Royals agreed to terms. This means that they will avoid going to arbitration, something Dayton Moore has not done since 2006.

The part that caught my eye was the added incentives. Going into the 2018 season some have been debating whether or not Karns should be in the rotation or bullpen. The reason for putting him in the bullpen would be to limit his chances of being injured again. However, when you look at what he did as a starter those numbers are really hard to ignore.

With the added incentives the Royals have given to Karns, it seems as if the question has been answered. The Royals seem set on making Karns a starter for the 2018 season. With the ability to make additional money depending on the number of starts, it is hard to see Karns being in the bullpen. It is also worth noting that Karns can make another $50,000 this year if he is selected to go to the All-Star Game.

On A Side Note…

A healthy Karns could mean great things for the Royals future rebuild. Having him as a consistent part of the rotation could help speed up the rebuilding process quicker than most foresee. From 2019-2020 the Royals could have four of the five rotation spots filled with solid pitchers.

Final Thoughts

I am concerned about the consistency of Karns injuries. The history shows that he can be a great addition to the Royals pitching staff, but it also shows that he does get injured frequently.  If the Royals finally figured out the reason why his shoulder has been giving him problems, and the problem is fixed, Karns could be a staple in the Royals rotation.

If the Royals can get him going, and healthy, Karns will be a part of this rotation until 2020. For a team that is wanting to manage expenses, paying a pitcher with the potential of Karns just $1.4 million dollars is perfect for them.

So here is to a healthy 2018 season for Nate Karns. Here is to a healthy 2019 and 2020 as well.

What do you think Royals fans? Do you like having Nate Karns in the rotation? Could he be a wild-card that helps speed up the teams rebuild? Let us know your thoughts!