Royals general manager Dayton Moore has famously avoided a single arbitration hearing with all eligible players since arriving in Kansas City in 2006. He’ll continue to test his perfect record this winter.
The Royals have just three arbitration-eligible players on their 40-man roster — pitchers Kelvin Herrera, Nathan Karns and Brandon Maurer — the result of having a roster made up largely of young players and aging veterans. It could mean another offseason without a hearing.
Players are eligible for the salary-arbitration process once they accumulate three years of service time on the major-league roster or have earned “Super Two” status, meaning they rank among the top 22 percent of players with more than two years of service time. Players reach full free agency after surpassing six years of major-league service time. All players with fewer than three years of service time must accept a salary at or near the league minimum of $545,000.
If arbitration-eligible players and clubs do not reach a contract agreement before Friday’s noon deadline, they exchange figures and head for a hearing in which a third-party arbitrator rules for either side. The parties, however, can also come to a compromise at any point before the scheduled hearing. Three years ago, for instance, the Royals and Eric Hosmer came to an agreement on a contract 24 hours before a scheduled hearing in mid February.
Last offseason, the Royals exchanged arbitration figures with Herrera before later coming to an agreement before a hearing. This year, the club can expect to pay out raises to Herrera, Karns and Maurer.
Herrera, 28, made $5.325 million last season and is entering his final year before reaching free agency. He is projected to make $8.3 million in 2018, according to projections from the website MLB Trade Rumors, which uses historical models.
Maurer, a 27-year-old reliever acquired from the San Diego Padres in a midseason trade, is projected to make $3.8 million after earning $1.9 million last season. Karns, eligible for arbitration for the first time, is projected to make $1.4 million. He will compete for a job in the starting rotation.