Brady Singer and the KC Royals recently squared off in their arbitration hearing. Only $375,000 was at stake, a mere pittance (if even that) within baseball's financial structure. Singer wasn't asking a lot, just $3.325 million for this season, while the Royals, in a move entirely consistent with their well-deserved reputation for caution and frugality, offered $2.95 million.
For Singer, whose proposal seemed reasonable after his excellent 10-5, 3.23 2021 season, prevailing in arbitration, where neutral decision-makers weigh only the merits of the parties' proposed figures and can't award anything in between, wouldn't have made him a millionaire. The $4.25 million the Royals gave him to sign after picking him in the first round of the 2018 draft, and with which he paid off his parents' debt, already took care of that.
Instead, he'd have received an increase of almost $2.6 million over the $726,250 he made last year. Losing, though, meant a bump of "only" a bit less than $2.25 million, not a bad boost for a 26-year-old.
In the end, after all the arguments were made behind closed doors, Singer lost. Per MLB.com baseball writer Mark Feinsand (Twitter link), the club convinced the arbitration panel it was right.
Singer will survive, of course, the franchise won't go broke, and the chances of hard feelings spoiling the parties' relationship are probably slim and none.
So, what's next?
KC Royals starting pitcher Brady Singer will eventually get his big payday
Despite the arbitration loss, Singer's best financial days are yet to come. And come they will.
He is, after all, the presumptive ace of Kansas City's rotation. Yes, Zack Greinke and his Hall of Fame resume are returning for another season, but Singer's 2022 was better than his, and new Royal Jordan Lyles isn't ace material. Nor are any of the other potential members of manager Matt Quatraro's rotation.
And his 2022 performance was one of the best turned in by a Kansas City starter since 2016, when four reached double-digit win totals; indeed, his 10 wins were the most achieved by a KC pitcher since 2017.
Then there's the lesson presumably learned from increasing his pitch mix last season after staying away from the changeup too long.
The future, then, seems bright for Singer, perhaps so bright that the Royals will sit down with him and forge a mutually beneficial contract extension, something we recently suggested when the parties couldn't agree on his 2023 salary. A successful negotiation stands to increase Singer's financial security at the same time it minimizes the club's risk of losing him when he first becomes eligible for free agency after the 2026 campaign.
Whether that happens remains to be seen, and there are reasons why the Royals may prefer to wait. Early extensions are becoming the rage, but the Royals might want to hold off until they see whether Singer's last season was a fluke. Barring injury to Singer, that's something readily determinable by midseason.
It takes two to negotiate, though, and Singer could be reluctant to commit himself now, especially because 2022 probably won't prove to be a fluke and he could command more money via an extension next winter, or if he waits until free agency.
Singer's big money is coming. We'll see just when and how it arrives.
The Royals won their arbitration case with Brady Singer. Should they have?