Felipe Paulino poses an interesting question to the Kansas City Royals this offseason: will the rehabbing veteran prove to be worth the estimated $3 million that KC must pay to take him to arbitration? Paulino had a glimpse at greatness for a brief time in 2012, but is that enough to warrant paying him and giving him a chance next season?
Paulino started five games on a 60-75 pitch limit for the Omaha Storm Chasers in 2013. Scouts watching his outings say he routinely reached 95-96 mph with his fastball, but often lost confidence in it in later innings as he started getting knocked around. Paulino’s numbers were uninspiring in his five starts, but that’s a small sample size for a player returning from significant arm surgery.
Nonetheless, the stats indicate that Paulino won’t be MLB-ready to start next season, which leaves the Royals with yet another decision to make. Paulino is arbitration eligible for $3 million, so will the Royals offer him a deal?
The Royals signed Paulino to a one-year, $1.75 million deal in November of last year. Paulino, now 30, still Tweets and addresses the media in a very pro-Royals fashion. A good teammate by heart, Felipe tweeted encouragement and congratulations throughout the 2013 season, and still refers to himself as a Royals pitcher in his brief bio. He seems excited to play for the Royals next season, so maybe he knows something I don’t.
Maybe a team-friendly, reclamation-project kind of contract will soon be penned. Maybe he’s already informally accepted an arbitration deal, or maybe Paulino’s just a good guy who’s a diehard for his team until they officially aren’t his team any more. Either way, Paulino seems like the kind of guy KC wants in the clubhouse, and $3 million for a legit starter isn’t much to ask.
The Royals have little to lose for a chance to get him back to Cy Young form. If he can come anything close to the 1.67 ERA he recorded during six starts in 2012, fans in KC would go nuts, and a career renaissance could be in the making.