KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Luke Hochevar and the American League champion Kansas City Royals completed a $10 million, two-year contract Thursday that includes a mutual option for 2017.
The right-hander will earn $4 million next season and $5.5 million in 2016, and the option includes a $500,000 buyout, a person familiar with the terms told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club does not release contract details.
The Royals decided to sign the former No. 1 overall draft pick to a multiyear deal in part because he is coming off Tommy John surgery that caused him to miss last season, and it is unclear just how quickly he will be back to full strength.
By signing Hochevar, the Royals have several expensive bullpen pieces under control.
They exercised their option on setup man Wade Davis, which means he will earn $7 million next year and now has an $8 million option for 2016 with a $500,000 buyout. And if the Royals exercise that, they would have a $10 million option for 2017 with a $250,000 buyout.
All-Star closer Greg Holland remains under club control through 2016, but he's eligible for arbitration and likely will earn more than $9 million next season. Kelvin Herrera is also eligible for arbitration and should receive a significant salary bump after a stellar season.
With the Royals still needing to find another starting pitcher to replace James Shields and a designated hitter to replace Billy Butler, it is possible they will explore trading one of their expensive relievers. Holland figures to net the most in return.
Hochevar struggled for years as a starter but was dominant after switching to the bullpen, no longer nibbling at corners but throwing straight heat. He went 5-1 with a 1.92 ERA in 2013, at one point becoming so good that the Royals considered moving him back to the rotation.
In spring training, though, Hochevar felt a twinge in his elbow. An MRI exam a couple of days later revealed a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament, resulting in Tommy John surgery.
While he spent the entire season rehabbing, Hochevar always seemed to be around the club, enjoying its run to the World Series as best he could. And while he watched, Herrera, Davis and Holland become one of the most dynamic relief trios in baseball, pitching Kansas City to its first pennant in 29 years.
Now, it appears general manager Dayton Moore is going to give Hochevar a chance to contribute in a more tangible way next season. Hochevar is expected to be ready to pitch when the Royals report to Surprise, Arizona, for spring training in mid-February.