The Royals have officially agreed to a two-year, $17MM deal with free agent DH Kendrys Morales. Morales can earn an additional $750K per year through performance incentives. The contract includes a mutual option for a third year.
Morales will earn $6.5MM in 2015 and $9MM in 2016, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter). He also has a $1.5MM buyout on a $11MM mutual option, the inclusion of which was first reported by Chris Cotillo of SB Nation (on Twitter).
Morales becomes the replacement for long-time DH Billy Butler, who went to the A’s for $30MM over three years earlier in the offseason. Morales, a switch-hitter, is 31 years of age.
After sitting out a good chunk of the season last year, having declined a qualifying offer before entering free agency, Morales ultimately signed a one-year deal with the Twins. But he struggled there and was dealt to the Mariners, where he continued to fall shy of his typical standards at the plate.
Between 2009 and 2013 — not including a 2011 campaign lost to injury — Morales owned a cumulative .286/.339/.494 line while averaging over twenty home runs per season. That was good for a 128 OPS+, plenty above average even for a bat-only player. Last year, however, he slashed just .218/.274/.338 over 401 plate appearances.
Kansas City has placed a bet on a return to form for Morales, whose ability to hit pitching of both hands (but especially righties) is also attractive. The Royals ranked dead last in baseball with 95 deep flies last year, and Morales should provide a jolt of pop if he can get back on track with a full spring.
SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo reported the sides were close (Twitter links). Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweeted that the deal was done. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweeted the financial terms, while Cotillo reported the option on Twitter.