Morales finalizes deal with Royals
Kendrys Morales missed out on a postseason appearance last season when his Seattle Mariners fell just short of a wild card.
Now he's joining one of the teams that went to the playoffs at Seattle's expense.
The Kansas City Royals finalized a $17 million, two-year deal with the veteran slugger Tuesday. Kansas City made the postseason as a wild card this year and went all the way to the World Series before losing to San Francisco in Game 7.
''At first I didn't think maybe they would make the playoffs, but they caught fire at the end and were playing really well,'' Morales said through a translator. ''I think they started playing well, they kind of gained some confidence. They were playing well going into the playoffs and that was the most important part for them.''
Morales gives the Royals a new designated hitter after Billy Butler agreed to a free agent deal with Oakland. Kansas City will hope last season was an aberration for Morales, who hit .218 with eight homers and 42 RBIs in 98 games with the Minnesota Twins and Seattle. He didn't play last season until June after waiting for the right offer.
Two years ago, Morales hit .277 with 23 homers for Seattle.
The Royals finished last in the major leagues in home runs but won the pennant with a distinctive style built on speed, defense and a sensational bullpen. It was a thrilling run for a team that hadn't been to the playoffs since 1985, but it remains to be seen if Kansas City's success is sustainable. This is, after all, a team that won only 89 games during the regular season, finishing a game behind AL Central champion Detroit.
''We have to be able to drive the ball better - a lot of times we'd come up with bases loaded or first and second, we'd hit a single or what have you,'' general manager Dayton Moore said. ''Kendrys we think is a necessary part of that, to produce more runs, as our lineup continues to gain more experience.''
Butler struggled through one of the worst seasons of his career, hitting .271 with only nine homers. His $12.5 million option was declined.
The 31-year-old Morales will get $6.5 million next year and $9 million in 2016. The deal includes an $11 million mutual option for 2017 with a $1.5 million buyout.
Morales can make an additional $750,000 in performance bonuses in each of the first two seasons based on plate appearances: $50,000 for 375 and $100,000 apiece for 400 and each additional 25 until 550.
The Royals have also agreed with outfielder Alex Rios on an $11 million, one-year contract, a person with knowledge of the negotiations said Monday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was subject to Rios passing a physical.
Like Morales, Rios is someone the Royals hope can recapture his previous power stroke. He hit .280 this year with four homers and 54 RBIs for the Texas Rangers. Rios set career highs with the Chicago White Sox in 2012 with 25 homers and 91 RBIs.
The Royals have not officially announced the deal with Rios.
Kansas City may also add a starting pitcher now that James Shields has become a free agent.
''We're obviously in the starting pitching market, we're still looking at trades and evaluating those opportunities as well,'' Moore said. ''There's been some discussion and reports about future signings and we'll see how that plays out in the next few days.''
AP Sports Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.