With pitchers and catchers set to report on Tuesday, the Orioles signed their first major league free agent of the offseason. Nate Karns, who didn’t pitch at all last season because of an elbow injury, agreed to a one-year, $800,000 contract.
Karns’ deal includes $200,000 in performance bonuses. He can earn $50,000 each for working 25, 50, 75 and 100 innings. If he makes the All-Star team, Karns would earn $50,000 and $25,000 if he’s voted Comeback Player of the Year.
The 31-year-old right-hander will presumably contend for the back end of the rotation. Dylan Bundy, Andrew Cashner and Alex Cobb are set as the top three starters while David Hess and Yefry Ramirez finished last season in the rotation, too.
At his best, Karns gives the Orioles something they’ve lacked from a starter, a strikeout artist. In his best two seasons, 2015 with Tampa Bay and 2016 with Seattle, Karns struck out roughly a batter an inning.
Overall, Karns is 16-11 with a 4.37 ERA in 63 games, 54 starts in five seasons with Washington, the Rays, Mariners and Kansas City.
In 2015, Karns was 7-5 with a 3.67 ERA in 147 innings. He struck out 145 batters for Tampa Bay. He made a career-high 27 appearances, all but one of them starts.
In two lifetime starts in Baltimore, Karns has allowed just one run on five hits in 11 innings for an 0.82 ERA.
Not only will Karns be competing with Hess and Ramirez, but he’ll likely also face competition from John Means, Luis Ortiz, Josh Rogers and Jimmy Yacabonis, all of whom appeared with the Orioles last season. Dillon Tate, who along with Rogers was acquired from the New York Yankees in the trade for Zack Britton last July, could also compete.
In order to make room for Karns on the 40-man roster, infielder Jack Reinheimer, a Jan. 28 waiver acquisition, was designated for assignment.
Changing names and terminology
The pitcher long known as Zach Britton announced on Twitter that he will now be known as Zack. He explained that Zack is his correct name, and Zach isn’t. His tweet: Breaking News: I will be going by my legal name “Zack” instead of my stage name “Zach”….. everyone continue to breath normally… #beenlivingalie #birthcertfail
While Major League Baseball and the Players Association are discussing major changes in rules and regulations, one term has been discarded.
Because of objections by advocacy groups for the disabled, MLB will no longer use disabled list. It is being replaced by injured list. The rule takes effect immediately.