KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The Royals and third baseman Mike Moustakas agreed Thursday to a $14.3 million, two-year contract that not only avoids arbitration this year but also buys out his final year.
Coming off his first All-Star appearance, the 27-year-old hit .284 last year with 34 doubles, 22 homers and 82 RBIs while also setting career-highs in on-base percentage and slugging.
Kansas City offered $4.2 million and Moustakas countered with $7 million. The sides settled on $5.6 million this season and $8.7 million next season, keeping general manager Dayton Moore's streak intact of never having taken a case to an arbitration hearing.
All of the Royals' arbitration-eligible players are under contract for this season.
Moustakas has long been considered one of the franchise cornerstones, ever since he was a first-round pick in the 2007 draft. But after a rapid rise to the major leagues, he went through long periods of disappointment, culminating with a .212 average, 15 homers and 54 RBIs two years ago.
Rather than sulk, Moustakas spent much of the offseason making minor adjustments to his swing, and he was rewarded with easily the best offensive season of his career.
His new contract only solidifies what many view as a two-year window for the Royals to win another World Series. Moustakas will be a free agent in 2018, along with first baseman Eric Hosmer, centerfielder Lorenzo Cain, shortstop Alcides Escobar, starting pitcher Jason Vargas and closer Wade Davis.
Recently signed starter Ian Kennedy can also opt out of his contract at that time.
Pitchers and catchers are due to report next week to Surprise, Arizona, for spring training, with the rest of the squad reporting the following week. The first spring training game is March 2.
Just three players remain scheduled for arbitration hearings: Colorado second baseman DJ LeMahieu, Houston designated hitter Evan Gattis and New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman.