Thursday afternoon Felipe Paulino, who turned 29 last month, and the Kansas City Royals agreed to a one year contract worth $1.75 million. He can earn an additional $250,000 in incentives based on the terms of his deal. The signing makes perfect sense for team and player alike.
Even though he will spend part of the 2013 season working his way back from his July Tommy John surgery, the Royals need all the talent and depth they can muster for their rotation. Had he stayed healthy during the 2012 season he would have been in line for a significant raise over the $1.9 million he made last year, but instead he’s agreed to a pay cut. Despite the drop in salary, however, the deal also benefits Paulino.
He has upped his level of performance since landing in Kansas City, the team is fully aware of his medical history as well as his progress in his rehab program. Paulino is no stranger to arm troubles and has battled the injury bug at various points in his career which obviously mitigates his overall value and earning potential on the open market. In addition to that, when he’s ready to take the ball and return to the mound, the Royals are going to almost assuredly have an spot open in their rotation for him. That will work in his favor as he tries to rebuild his stock for 2014 and beyond.
He may have been able to get a little more on the open market if a team was willing to take a flyer on him, but when both team and player are comfortable in a situation there is little reason to rock the boat quibbling over a few hundred thousand dollars.
Even though he was limited to just seven starts and 37.2 innings last year, Paulino was fantastic in the Royals rotation. At the time he was lost for the year he had a 1.67 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 39-15 SO-to-BB. His 9.3 SO/9 was the best rate of his major league career. Dipping into his minor league resume you have to go back to 2005 to find a better strikeout rate, with ten or more innings, and that came as a 21-year old in Lexington (A).
His success with the team hasn’t been limited to just last season either. Since joining the Royals, on May 16th, 2011, Paulino has given the team a 3.55 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 2.51 SO/BB and 8.8 SO/9 in 162.1 innings and 27 starts. As the 116 ERA+ suggests, he’s been one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dreadful rotation.
Every dollar is obviously important, especially to a team like the Royals – though we all know Dayton Moore has thrown some money around on some terrible contracts since he’s been on the job. So, while I’m elated they are bringing Paulino back for next season and avoided arbitration with him, I can’t help but think that at least matching his 2012 salary would have been a shrewd move on their part.
Anything they can do to build up additional goodwill and positive karma with Paulino and his representation would certainly grease the wheels if they wanted to pursue signing him in 2014 and beyond.
After all, tt’s a fairly safe bet they’re going to need him beyond just this season.