It had been talked about for awhile, but the KC Royals finally traded outfielder Jarrod Dyson. During the winter meetings, many teams were interested and it seemed Oakland was the most aggressive. When the Royals traded closer Wade Davis to the Cubs, many expected many more trades to happen involving the Royals. Instead, they have stayed relatively quiet.
Today, the Royals traded Dyson to Seattle, Oakland’s division rival. Earlier in the day, the Mariners traded fellow outfielder (and DH) Seth Smith to Baltimore for starter Yovani Gallardo. A few hours later, the Mariners made the deal with the Royals, sending KC pitcher Nate Karns.
The deal saves the Royals money (Dyson is projected to make around $2 million in arbitration and is in his final year of his contract, while Karns is making less than $600,000) and gives them a pitcher that is controllable until 2020 (and also has an option left).
Dyson, a 50th round draft pick, made himself into a great defender, though I am still not sold on him being a regular player (mainly because he struggles against left-handed pitchers). Since starting the 2012 season with Triple-A Omaha, Dyson has not been back in the minors since except for rehab assignments.
2016 was a career year for Dyson, hitting .278 in 107 games with 26 walks to just 39 strikeouts (.340 OBP). He also stole 30-of-37 bases, hit 14 doubles and eight triples, and drove in 25 (all career-highs). Dyson committed just two errors in the outfield (one each in center and right) and had 11 outfield assists.
I first saw Karns when he was coming up through the Washington minor league system, back in 2012 and 2013. He was then traded to Tampa Bay in February of 2014 and then Seattle in November of 2015. Karns made his big league debut on May 28, 2013 in three starts with the Nationals.
With Seattle last season, he pitched in 22 games, 15 of which were starts. However, he did not pitch after July 29th due to a lower back strain. He had shoulder surgery way back in 2010 and did not return to the mound until July of 2011 (a full season).
Karns pitched very well in 2015 with the Rays, carrying a 3.67 ERA over 27 games (26 starts). He was just 7-5, but over 147 innings, he held opponents to a .239 average and struck out 145 (though he walked 56).
If healthy in 2017, Karns is a viable option as the Royals fifth starter.