Dyson for Karns is a win for Royals, but he’ll be missed

Friday, the Royals traded outfielder and soon-to-be free agent Jarrod Dyson to Seattle for pitcher under team control through 2020 in Nathan Karns. So, what there’ not to love about the trade?

I guess him not being in a Royals uniform any longer is about the only thing not to like about the trade.

Dyson was nothing special. But the former 50th Round Draft Pick who spent 10 years in the Royals organization and the guy who brought “that what speed do” to Kansas City, meant a lot to the Royals. A fan favorite and one of the strongest locker room leaders, he hit .260/.325/.353 in seven seasons in Kansas City. The speedy left-hander who led the Royals in WAR in 2016 and is the fourth-most successful base stealer in over the last 50 years with an 85% success rate (however that rate is slowly declining – 81% in 2016 after 87% from 2010-2015 – as his legs are not getting any younger). Despite just 1,901 plate appearances over the last four years, he has the sixth-highest total BsR score from Fangraphs (23.3), ranking ahead of some players, like Billy Hamilton, who have twice as many trips to the plate. He never really took off when given brief spurts of regular playing time, in fact he was exposed at the plate when his role expanded beyond what he became accustomed to as a Royal – a reserve outfielder who frequented the late-inning defensive replacement/pinch-runner, with a start here and there. And, he excelled in that role, stealing 30 bases or more in four of the last five seasons despite having more than 300 plate appearances just twice in his career. He posted career highs in all three slash categories in 2016 (.278/.340/.388), while playing great defense (mostly because of his incredible closing speed; he ranks the 13th best fielder in total defensive value (UZR) of the last four seasons).

In return, the Royals get a player that hasn’t yet hit arbitration and won’t hit free agency until 2021. Karns, the right-hander, has a fastball that sits in the mid-90’s and touches 98. 2016 was his worst year, a WHIP over 1.40 and a 5.15 ERA in 22 games (15 start), posting a 6-2 record; but a bad back could be attributed to that. He also struggled in part to a lack of control (4.3 BB/9) and a .327 BABIP, but he also posted a career-best 10.9% swing rate. But, in his career, spanning 265 innings, he has 250 strikeouts, a 4.41 ERA, 1.364 WHIP and a 14-9 record over 54 games (46 starts) and is a potential fifth starter for the Royals this year, joining Chris Young, Matt Strahm, Josh Staumount and Mike Minor, among others.

It was easy to see this coming. Dyson, 32, will be owed around $2.5 million in arbitration in 2017, before hitting free agency, and the Royals have a cheaper, younger replacement, who is also a switch hitter, in Billy Burns; albeit a lesser version (a “worse” defender and base-runner and provides the softest contact rate of any player in MLB).

So, if this was a movie, let’s title it, “the Rise of Billy Burns.”

Dyson will get a boost in playing time, being on the good side of a platoon in the Mariners, outfield, where he will likely hit leadoff. He may be OK in a platoon role, but I expect his bat to suffer. As for the Royals, they basically got max value for a reserve outfielder. We’re going to miss Dyson and we hope he takes full advantage of his new opportunity – he was never going to get it, here. He was very likeable and part of some great moments in Royals history and the Golden Age, but there’s nothing to NOT like about this trade.

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Now, Conrad reminds us why we all loved Jarrod Dyson:

It’s the end of the Zoom era. @mrzoombiya was a fan and locker room favorite. While not an everyday contributor on the field and in the lineup, his presence was as significant as any other player. He brought to the team exactly what it needed; confidence, attitude, and fun. Dyson’s blazing speed allowed him to chase down just about any ball hit to the outfield grass, despite how bad of a route he took or how bad of a jump he got. Despite his small demeanor, he has an excellent throwing arm, logging 36 assists and turning 12 double plays from the outfield as a part-time player. Over the last two seasons, his 19 assists are better than all but four outfielders. In a close game, opposing pitchers were distracted by the thought of him in late innings, BEFORE he entered the game. They knew that if they allowed a batter to reach base, Dyson was coming in. When Dyson trotted out of the dugout to first base, everyone knew he was going to steal, and he did it. When he arrived at second base, it seemed a near certainty he was going to steal again, and/or score. He was fun to watch, and we will miss him. Here are some of our favorite Dyson moments. I’ll start with a personal one.

On June 22, 2011: Dyson was recalled after a short stay in Omaha. I just happened to be in the Royals clubhouse working at the time he arrived, one of the few times I’ve been there. As I was walking out, Dyson strolled past me in street clothes and said “Hey,” on his way to manager Ned Yost’s office. I was thinking to myself, “Cool. The fast dude is back. Also, he acknowledged me!” Then Ned moves quickly by me, jersey un-tucked, may or may not have had pants on, it all happened so fast, to meet with Dyson. That was it. It was over, I was out, but for that brief little moment, I felt like I was a part of the team. Ian Kennedy and the Arizona Diamondbacks would beat the Royals that night 3-2, despite Chris F Getz going 3-4 with 2 stolen bases.

August 11, 2014: Another game with a 3-2 outcome, this time the good guys won, the Royals beat the Oakland A’s to move into first place. This was a big deal. The Royals had not experienced first place this late in a season since August 29, 2003. Dyson celebrated with a memorable backflip:

July 27, 2013: Dyson stepped to the plate to lead off the 12th inning. He hits a ground ball to Gordon Beckham, who bobbled the ball. Dyson was credited with single. In a postgame interview Dyson stated “That’s a single. That’s a tough play. That’s what speed do. If you can’t handle the ball, put it back in the glove.”

And, from that moment on, #thatwhatspeeddo was a thing.

October 2014: The Royals are in the Postseason! Dyson excites us with his classic “Vroom, vroom” motorcycle handlebar gesture and the rest of the team joins him:

Dyson scored on a Nori Aoki sac fly, tying the game and sending the Wild Card Game into extra’s.

Dyson shaves “ZOOM” into his hair for the ALCS:

KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 5:  PLAYER # of the Kansas City Royals ACTION during Game 3 against the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday, October 5, 2014 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Amy Stroth/MLB Photos via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** PLAYER1;PLAYER2

After taking a 2-0 series lead on the road, Andy McCullough of The Kansas City Star asked Dyson if he thought that the ALCS would be returning to Baltimore, he replied, “No sir, I don’t. And I don’t think that they [the Orioles] think that either.”

Dyson was caught stealing in the series, and an Oriole told him he should shave it. Dyson responded with, “you’re right, I’ll shave it; I’ll change it to broom.”

July 8, 2015: The Royals were in the middle of a great season hoping to follow up their fantastic 2014 postseason run that fell just a little short of a World Series championship. All-Star left fielder Alex Gordon collapses in the left center gap, chasing down a ball off the bat of Logan Forsythe in the top of the fourth inning. Forsythe would round the bases for an inside the park home run. You could almost hear voices crying out all over Kansas City as if a Jedi knight had fallen. Enter Dyson. Five batters later in that same top of the 4th, Dyson runs down a line drive from John Jaso and throws out Brandon Guyer at home in a run saving double play. In the bottom of the 6th, Dyson hits his own inside the park home run:

The Royals would win the game 9-7. The very next day, in Game 1 of a day-night double header, Dyson did this:

July 18, 2016: Trailing 2-0 and moving to the bottom of the 8th, Corey Kluber and the Indians felt like the game was in hand. The Indians were in first place and the Royals had been struggling. Kluber began to cramp up and had to exit the game. Maybe we can get back in this thing? They did! Seven batters reach base and the Royals moved ahead 3-2 with the bases loaded and two outs for Dyson. On the first pitch he sees from Indians reliever Jeff Manship, Dyson blasts a deep fly ball down the right field line for the first grand slam of his career:

I was in the front row above the Royals dugout and caught Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez celebrating:

August 25, 2016: In the bottom of the first inning, Dyson runs down a ball off the bat of Marlins left fielder, Christian Yelich. It was breathtaking and maybe the catch of the year in MLB:

September 15, 2014: the Royals march to the playoffs began with one of the craziest walk-off wins you’ll ever see. In full #RoyalsDevilMagic mode, trailing the White Sox 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth, Dyson, who started things with an infield single, took off for third, but pitcher Jake Petricka bounced the pitch, and catcher Tyler Flowers was unable to handle it. Dyson rounded third and headed for home to tie the game. The Royals would win it on an infield single by Lorenzo Cain that scored speedster Terrance Gore, who is even faster than Dyson, FROM SECOND BASE.

Then there was the time Dyson did this:

How about that time that Fetty Wap came to town?

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September 21, 2013: In a broadcast photobomb, Jarrod and I were captured together. It is my favorite picture of the two of us. It is the only picture of the two of us:

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You will be missed. Thank you for being you, Jarrod.

#ForeverRoyal

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