The Royals acquired starting pitcher Nathan Karns from the Seattle Mariners for outfielder Jarrod Dyson, according to Mariners beat writer Bob Dutton. Karns is a 29-year old right-handed pitcher who was 6-2 with a 5.15 ERA and 4.05 FIP and 101 strikeouts in 94 1⁄3 innings in 2016, his first year with the Mariners.
Karns was originally drafted in the 12th round in 2009 by the Washington Nationals out of Texas Tech University. After making his Major League debut in 2013, he was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays, where he spent two seasons. He posted a solid season in 2015 with the Rays, with a 3.67 ERA in 27 games with 145 strikeouts in 147 innings, with a 2.2 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) season, according to Baseball Reference.
Karns definitely has the ability to miss bats, whiffing 270 hitters in 265 1⁄3 innings in the big leagues. He brings a fastball that averages 92 mph, and a plus knuckle-curveball that ranked as one of the most effective benders in baseball in 2015.
Karns does have trouble with walks. Over 2015-2016, he has the 12th-highest walk rate among starting pitchers with at least 200 innings pitched, with 3.77 walks-per-nine innings. missed most of the second half of the 2016 season with a lower back strain. He is not eligible for arbitration until 2018 and will not be eligible for free agency until 2021.
The Royals trade away Jarrod Dyson, who was in his last year of club control before being eligible for free agency. Dyson was originally a 50th round pick by the Royals in 2006 who used his speed to become a very valuable reserve outfielder, hitting .260/.325/.353 with 12.8 WAR in seven seasons with the Royals. He is the fourth-most successful base-stealer in baseball in the last 50 years, swiping bases at an 85% success rate.
Dyson was expected to earn about $2.5 million in arbitration, while Karns will make near the league minimum, so the move saves the Royals some money, while giving them another starting pitching option. The current rotation includes Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, Yordano Ventura, and Jason Vargas, with Karns competing with Mike Minor, Matt Strahm, and Chris Young for the fifth spot.
You hate to see such a valuable player like Jarrod Dyson get traded, but at least Dayton Moore got back a starting pitcher with several controllable years left. Karns is likely a back-of-the-rotation guy, but he can miss bats, and has already put up a 2 WAR season. Jarrod Dyson was a criminally underrated player in Kansas City, and we are sad to see him go, but on paper, this actually looks like a pretty decent deal.