The Royals and pitcher Ian Kennedy agreed to a $70 million US, five-year deal Saturday that includes an opt-out after the first two years, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the contract will not be completed until the 31-year-old right-hander passes a physical. That could happen this week.
Kennedy went 9-15 with a 4.28 ERA for the San Diego Padres last season. He is four years removed from a 21-win season with the Arizona Diamondbacks and has also pitched for the New York Yankees during his nine-year career.
The Royals sought another starter to replace Johnny Cueto, who signed a $130 million, six-year deal with the Giants after helping Kansas City win its first World Series since 1985.
Kennedy turned down the Padres' qualifying offer — a guaranteed $15.8 million salary for next season. That means San Diego will receive a draft pick from Kansas City as compensation.
The Royals hope Kennedy can return to form under pitching coach Dave Eiland, who has worked wonders with Edinson Volquez, Yordano Ventura and others over the years. Kennedy and Eiland are familiar with each other after their years in the Yankees system.
Kennedy should also benefit from pitching in spacious Kauffman Stadium. While his strikeout rate was among the best in the game last season, he also allowed 31 homers in just 168 1/3 innings.
Kennedy figures to slide into the middle of the rotation behind Volquez and Ventura and ahead of Kris Medlen and Chris Young. The Royals also have Danny Duffy and Dillon Gee, among several others, who stand to compete for the fifth spot throughout spring training.
Heralded prospect Kyle Zimmer could also be in the mix later in the season.
Long considered frugal, the Royals have spent lavishly the past couple of years, a signal that the small-market club views the next two years as a prime opportunity to win another championship.
Already this off-season, the Royals brought back All-Star outfielder Alex Gordon on a $72 million, four-year contract. They signed former closer Joakim Soria to a $25 million, three-year deal, avoided the next two years of arbitration with All-Star outfielder Lorenzo Cain by agreeing to a two-year, $17.5 million deal and brought back Young on an $11.5 million, two-year deal.
Throw in an $8 million option on All-Star closer Wade Davis and a $5.25 million option on All-Star shortstop Alcides Escobar, along with significant raises for their arbitration-eligible players, and the Kansas City payroll could reach a franchise-record $140 million next season.
"We're going to continue to work our roster, massage it in ways that are going to help us win," general manager Dayton Moore said recently. "If you look at the evolution of the 2015 roster, we made adjustments along the way, and I'm confident we're going to be able to do that."
Davis stays put
Chris Davis and the Orioles are together again.
Multiple people with knowledge of the situation say Davis has agreed to a seven-year, $161 million contract with Baltimore, pending a physical.
The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Saturday because the Orioles have not announced the transaction.
The 29-year-old Davis has been with Baltimore since 2011. He hit a major-league leading 47 home runs and amassed 117 RBIs last year.
Davis became a free agent after the 2015 season, and he wondered aloud during the final week whether his time in Baltimore was up.
"I'm trying not to reminisce too much just yet," he said. "I definitely want to enjoy these last few games, just kind of take everything in, being around these guys, playing in front of our fans, and wearing this uniform. I try not to let myself look too far ahead. If I did that, it would be a lot harder the last few days and take some joy away."
The Orioles were his most aggressive suitor, offering a seven-year deal last month. Since coming to the Orioles in a July 2011 trade with Texas, Davis has been a sensational run producer and a positive force in the clubhouse.
"I've said all along, Chris is a body-of-work guy," manager Buck Showalter said. "When you get through and step back, he can do a lot of things that not many people can do. He may go some at-bats and just not look aesthetically pleasing, but he's always one swing, one at-bat away. He squares up a ball, and it goes where you can't defend it."
After Davis and his agent, Scott Boras, stalled making a decision this offseason, Baltimore reportedly made an offer this week to hard-hitting free agent Yoenis Cespedes.
Within days, Davis had himself a deal. Davis has 203 career homers, including 126 over the last three years. He hit a career-high 53 long balls in 2013.