RONALD BLUM, AP Baseball Writer
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Royals liked what they saw of Chris Young so much they decided to keep him. And they liked Joakim Soria so much from his past stint in Kansas City they struck a deal to bring him back.
The World Series champions announced an $11.5 million, two-year contract with Young on Monday and also agreed to a $25 million, three-year deal with Soria that still needs to be finalized.
“Him and Chris Young are very similar people,” general manager Dayton Moore said at the winter meetings.
Details of Soria’s agreement were provided by a person familiar with the negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity because it had not yet been announced.
“We’re working towards an agreement. Nothing is official at this point,” Moore said. “He’s very poised, great command of his fastball, just very efficient with his pitches. A tremendous presence in the clubhouse.”
A 6-foot-10 right-hander who turns 37 in May, Young was the 2014 AL Comeback Player of the Year with Seattle after missing a season while recovering from shoulder surgery. The Princeton graduate signed a $675,000 deal with the Royals this year and went 11-6 with a 3.06 ERA in 18 starts and 16 relief appearances, earning $2.55 million in performance bonuses.
Among pitchers with 120 or more innings, he led the AL in opponents’ batting average (.202) and fewest hits per nine innings (6.64).
“Our players absolutely loved him. They learned a lot by watching him compete,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “It was that winner’s mindset that he brought in the clubhouse, not only his ability to produce as a pitcher on the mound but everything he brought to the table with him that was so important to our team.”
Young won the World Series opener by pitching three hitless innings of relief against the New York Mets and started Game 4, allowing two runs in four innings. Kansas City plans to use him in its rotation next year.
“Chris Young is special,” Moore said. “He’s an unbelievable competitor, and you can make a case that he was the MVP of our pitching staff.”
Young gets $4.25 million next season and $5.75 million in 2017, and the deal includes an $8 million mutual option for 2018 with a $1.5 million buyout. Young can earn $250,000 annually in roster bonuses: $125,000 each for 90 and 120 days on the active major league roster.
Soria, a 31-year-old right-hander, was 3-1 with a 2.53 ERA in 72 relief appearances with Detroit and Pittsburgh this year. He had 160 saves in 180 chances for the Royals from 2007-11.
“Coming back from the Tommy John, I thought his stuff was a little bit softer in his first couple months back. But last year, I thought he was all the way back,” Yost said. “He was the Soria that we had, and it was very impressive to sit back and watch.”
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