It was just announced on the Kansas City Royals‘ homepage that the team has agreed to avoid arbitration with reliever Aaron Crow. A one-year, $1.475 million contract was penned earlier today, showing a compromise between realistic offers from both parties. Although Crow has been reliable and often dominant in his role as a live arm from the bullpen, he needs to show more drastic improvement this year than he showed in 2013 if he wants a big-time contract in the years to come.
On the surface, his statistics show him to be a trustworthy reliever who would warrant a solid contract in free agency next year. In three years of MLB ball with KC, Crow averages exactly one strikeout per inning and has compiled a 3.19 ERA. It has to be noted that his first year in the league was excellent, but he hasn’t improved in the two following seasons.
In 2011, Crow posted a 2.76 ERA in 62 innings. He tied his season total high for strikeouts and recorded the highest strikeouts/9 ratio of his career. That ratio has taken a turn for the worse in every year of Crow’s career so far, if only marginally, dropping from 9.4 to 9.0 to 8.3. His ERA ballooned to 3.48 in 2012, and was barely lowered to 3.38 last season.
This may sound nit-picky, but at this moment there are scouts from other franchises making note of this highly-touted young arm and being far more particular about their analysis than I could ever be. This one-year deal will be table scraps if Crow pitches lights-out this season. Unfortunately, things are trending in the wrong direction right now. This year’s production will determine not only Crow’s worth to the Royals, but also his worth to the 2015 free agency market.
For the record, this signing leaves only Greg Holland left on the list of unsigned Royals eligible for arbitration. We can safely assume the Royals won’t be parting with that guy before the year begins.