The Baltimore Orioles have officially signed a free agent in anticipating of the 2019 season. Pitcher Nate Karns signed on with the O’s yesterday. Karns signed a one-year deal worth $800,000, plus a possible $200,000 in incentives.
Over five seasons with four different teams (most recently Kansas City), Karns has a career win percentage of .573, and a 4.37 ERA. For what it’s worth, he gives up on average of 27 home runs per 162 games. Karns hasn’t appeared in a game since May of 2017 with Kansas City, after which he underwent thoracic outlet surgery. Then last year he was shut down during spring training with elbow inflammation and didn’t pitch in 2018.
So the Orioles are assuming a bit of a risk in signing Karns. I’m not sure he should be labeled a reclammation project, but it’s been awhile since he’s appeared in a game due to one injury or the next. He was ultimately outrighted last October by Kansas City, and he became a free agent.
The Orioles have two slots presumably open in the starting rotation. I suspect that’s where Karns will land, although his and others’ performances in spring training will play a role in that as well. Karns has been a starter for most of his career, but again nothing is set in stone per se.
In other news, Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA is projecting the Orioles to finishe with 105 losses in 2019. That’s the highest projected loss total in the majors. That would also mean that they’d win 57 games – a ten-win improvement over 2018.
Would that be considered a successful season? In the context of rebuilding, I would submit that it would. However again things have to be put in the proper context. Out of context, that’s a miserable season. But put back into the proper context of a ten-win improvement, a rebuilding team, and a young team, I think most Orioles fans will take that.