Consistent with their uncanny ability to settle rather than litigate arbitration cases, and just under the deadline for players and teams to exchange salary proposals Friday, the KC Royals reached hearing-avoiding agreements with all but one of their arb-eligible players.
Now in the fold on one-year deals per the club (Twitter link) are Brad Keller, Nicky Lopez, Scott Barlow, Kris Bubic, Josh Staumont, Amir Garrett and Taylor Clarke.
Brady Singer, though, remains unsigned and, if he and the Royals don't resolve the difference between their respective proposals, an arbitration panel will soon do it for them.
How much is that difference? MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reports it's $375,000 after Singer put $3.325 million on the table and Kansas City proposed $2.95 million.
In other words, the monetary difference is baseball peanuts.
Are player and club really going to the mat over an amount that represents only a bit more than half of the majors' $720,000 minimum salary? Maybe, maybe not.
Could the KC Royals be trying to increase Brady Singer's trade value?
That the Royals are attempting to depress Singer's salary to make him more attractive on the open market is possible, but only slightly so. After his career-best 10-5, 3.23 season, an effort via which he earned the club's Bruce Rice Pitcher of the Year Award, Singer is Kansas City's undisputed ace heading into the 2023 season. Dealing him when he's finally proving himself worthy of the first-round draft choice he was in 2018 makes no sense.
And even if the Royals succeed in tamping down his salary a bit, which is no given considering the risk and unpredictability inherent in arbitration, it won't matter to teams interested in Singer. Those clubs will more than willingly pay more for a pitcher with Singer's talent.
But something else could very well explain why the club and Singer don't have an agreement.
Maybe the KC Royals and Brady Singer are talking about a contract extension.
This possibility is realistic, far more so than a Singer trade, and can't be dismissed simply because Singer and Kansas City exchanged required compensation proposals by Friday's deadline. There's no "we're still talking" exception to that exchange rule.
Putting aside for another day the merits of the Royals extending Singer, who is participating in arbitration for the first time and isn't eligible for free agency until after the 2026 season, it's entirely possible Singer and the club are mutually interested in an extension and are simply hammering out the details of such an arrangement; it should take more work and time, after all, to negotiate and wrap up an extension deal than a single-year contract.
And there's franchise precedent for an arbitration-period extension. The five-year, $65 million contract the Royals gave Danny Duffy just before the 2017 campaign began not only rewarded him for his spiffy 12-3, 3.51 2016 performance, but also avoided arbitration and Duffy's first venture into free agency. Hunter Dozier received similar, but not as lucrative, treatment when, after sidestepping arbitration by giving him a new one-year deal, the club turned around three months later and extended him for four years at $25 million per season.
So, don't be too surprised if principal Kansas City owner John Sherman authorizes general manager J. J. Picollo to extend Singer for several seasons at a big number the pitcher finds agreeable.
The Brady Singer-Royals situation is worth keeping an eye on.