Friday December 19th, 2014

The Kansas City Royals have signed starting pitcher Kris Medlen to a two-year contract with a mutual option for 2017, the team announced Thursday.

The deal is worth $8.5 million in guaranteed money and contains significant incentives based on innings pitched and starts made, according to the Kansas City Star.

Medlen, who spent the first six years of his career with the Atlanta Braves, missed the entire 2014 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, the second such operation in his career. The Braves declined to tender a contract to Medlen earlier this month, making him a free agent. They did the same with Brandon Beachy, who also went down to his second Tommy John surgery several weeks after Medlen.

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It's unclear when Medlen will be able to return to the mound after injuring his elbow in March. Royals general manager Dayton Moore said he expects Medlen to return at some point in the second half of the 2015 season.

From the team's official website:

"I think I've put myself in a pretty good spot physically for this team for whenever they need me, for whenever we think that time is," Medlen said. "I feel real comfortable about the talks we've had with the training staff and them willing to be pretty patient and get me on the field 100 percent.

"We believe in him a great deal," Moore said. "We're very excited for his future here in Kansas City."

Medlen, 29, broke into the majors in 2009, largely as a reliever, and underwent his first Tommy John operation late in the 2010 season. After returning late in 2011, he recorded a 1.57 ERA in 12 starts and 50 total games in 2012 and went 15-12 with a 3.11 ERA as a full-time starter in 2013.

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The Royals also reportedly signed starting pitcher Edinson Volquez this week, filling out their five-man rotation. Medlen thus likely won't have a guaranteed role as a starter upon his return in 2015.

In addition to the pitching additions, Kansas City has signed Kendrys Morales and Alex Rios this offseason as replacements for designated hitter Billy Butler, who left for the Oakland A's, and rightfielder Nori Aoki, who isn't expected to re-sign with the team.

The Royals went 89-73 last season and lost the World Series in seven games to the San Francisco Giants. It was the team's first trip to the playoffs and World Series since 1985.

Ben Estes

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