Players eligible for arbitration had to exchange salary figures with their clubs by noon today, but the Royals were able to agree on deals with two of their three arbitration-eligible players before that. The Royals signed reliever Kelvin Herrera one a one-year, $7,937,500 contract, according to MLB.com reporter Jeffrey Flanagan. Herrera struggled last year with a 4.25 ERA and just 0.1 WAR, according to Fangraphs, but he did convert 26 of 31 save opportunities. He earned $5.325 million last year and was entering his final year of arbitration before he becomes eligible for free agency next winter. MLB Trade Rumors projected him to receive $8.3 million.
The Royals also agreed to a deal with pitcher Nate Karns on a one-year, $1.375 million deal. MLB Trade Rumors projected him to earn $1.4 million in his first year of arbitration. Karns posted a 4.17 ERA but made just eight starts, missing the final three months of the year after thoracic outlet syndrome.
#Royals, Nate Karns avoid arb at $1.375 million plus incentives based on starts and all-star appearances per source— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) January 12, 2018
Both Karns and Herrera get a $50K bonus for All-Star appearances, plus Karns' games started bonus as previously mentioned.— Jeffrey Flanagan (@FlannyMLB) January 12, 2018
Still no word on whether the team has agreed to a deal with reliever Brandon Maurer. Maurer earned $1.9 million last year. He struggled, posting the worst ERA among all relievers with 50 innings pitched. He did post a 3.93 ERA and converted 22 saves with nearly a strikeout-per-inning, which could be the reason the two sides have not come to an agreement yet. He was projected to get $3.8 million.
Brandon Maurer is the last potential arbitration case to be settled beforehand. I'm hearing that could happen today as well, thus keeping Dayton Moore's record intact -- no arbitration hearings under his watch since 2006.— Jeffrey Flanagan (@FlannyMLB) January 12, 2018
If the two sides fail to come to an agreement, an arbitration hearing will be scheduled some time between January 29 and February 17. The team and player can continue to negotiate up to the hearing and come to terms, although the Royals are supposedly a “file and trial” team, meaning they will not come to terms once numbers are exchanged. They have come to terms with several players over the last few years after terms were exchanged, signing a deal with Eric Hosmer just hours before his hearing. The Royals have not had an arbitration hearing since 2006.
You can see a full list of deals around baseball from MLB Trade Rumors here. Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson signed a one-year deal worth $23 million, a record salary for an arbitration-eligible player on a one-year contract.
Update at 7:25 p.m.: The Royals have exchanged figures with Brandon Maurer. They can come to terms at any time before the hearing.
Reliever Brandon Maurer filed at $3.5m. The Royals at $2.95m.— Rustin Dodd (@rustindodd) January 12, 2018