Heading into the 2019 season, the Orioles were in need of at least one starting pitcher to insert into a rotation that finished with an ERA of 5.49. They weren’t expected to bid on free agent Dallas Keuchel, but they were expected to make a run at one of the free agent starters on the market.
On Thursday afternoon, the team signed right-handed pitcher, Nathan Karns to a one-year, $800,000 contract. The deal includes $200,000 worth of incentives based on innings pitched, according to MASN’s Roch Kubatko heading from an industry source. In order to receive that incentive, Karns must log 100 innings to earn an extra $200,000 payday. With the Orioles carrying a full 40-man roster, a player will need to be removed in order to free up a spot for Karns.
Karns, 31, did not pitch in the 2018 season. He spent the year recovering from shoulder and elbow issues related to Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. That’s a rare disease that effects fewer than 200,000 people per year in the United States. It’s a group of disorders that occur when certain blood vessels or nerves are compressed, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Karns was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 10th round of the 2006 Amateur Draft. The Astros plucked him from James W. Martin High School in Arlington, Texas. He decided not to sign and was later chosen in the 12th round of the 2009 draft by the Washington Nationals.
Over his five-year big league career, Karns has made appearances with the Nationals, Tampa Bay Rays, Seattle Mariners and most recently, the Kansas City Royals. He holds a lifetime 16-11 record with a 4.37 in 63 games (54 starts). Karns carries a mid-to-low 90’s fastball, a sinker, a curveball and a low-80’s offspeed pitch. He did have a Cutter in his repertoire but hasn’t thrown that since his rookie season in 2013.