January 22, 2010

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Rick Ankiel will try to boost his resurrected career in Kansas City's crowded outfield.

The former pitcher agreed to a $3.25 million, one-year contract with the Royals on Friday, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal, which is subject to a physical, had not yet been announced.

Ankiel started his career as a phenom pitcher with the Cardinals, going 11-7 with a 3.50 ERA in 2000, but was plagued by control problems in the playoffs that year, throwing five wild pitches in his first start.

Ankiel never regained his confidence or control, appearing in 11 games over the next two seasons before heading to the minors. The left-hander restarted his career as an outfielder and hit .264 with 25 homers in 2008, his first full season as an everyday player with St. Louis.

Ankiel wasn't nearly as productive last season, hitting .231 with 11 homers, and general manager John Mozeliak said during the offseason that he wasn't a candidate for a fourth outfield spot behind Matt Holliday, Colby Rasmus and Ryan Ludwick.

Ankiel joins an already-crowded Royals outfield corps.

Kansas City returns David DeJesus, Mitch Maier and Jose Guillen and added Scott Posednik and Brian Anderson in the offseason. Anderson is the only one with a minor league option left. Utilityman Willie Bloomquist also can play in the outfield, as can Josh Fields, who came to Kansas City from the Chicago White Sox in a trade for Mark Teahen.

Ankiel certainly will give the Royals some options.

Kansas City general manager Dayton Moore said after signing Podsednik that he might consider moving DeJesus from left back to center, where he played before the team signed Coco Crisp last season. Ankiel, who has played all three outfield positions, is an exceptional athlete who can cover a lot of ground and has a great arm.

His signing also could open up the possibility of moving Guillen, an average defensive player, to designated hitter or out of Kansas City altogether, if the Royals can find a team willing to take on at least some of his $12 million salary.

Ankiel will get $2.75 million this year, and the agreement includes a $6 million mutual option for 2011 with a $500,000 buyout. If the Royals exercise the option and Ankiel negates it, the buyout would be reduced to $250,000.

He can earn an additional $500,000 in performance bonuses this year: $125,000 each for 90 games or 405 plate appearances, 100 games or 450 plate appearances, 110 or 495 and 120 or 540.

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