BY DAVE SKRETTA, AP Sports journalist
KANSAS CITY, MO (AP) – The Royals signed their $ 25 million four-year deal with Hunter Dozier on Monday to ensure another member of their young foundation is under the club’s control for the foreseeable future.
Kansas City has gone through several years after two consecutive World Series runs culminated in a championship in 2015. The small market club was forced to watch players like Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas venture out to larger deals elsewhere, starting the slow and often painful process of rebuilding from within.
Dozier, the eighth choice in the 2013 amateur draft, has always been part of those plans.
He had a breakout season in 2019 when he hit 26 homers and led the American League with 10 triples while racing 84 runs. And while his numbers fell slightly last season when he missed the start on COVID-19 and hit just 0.228 with six homers in 44 games, the Royals believe his best seasons are yet to come.
“As I’ve said many times, our goal is to keep as many of our talented players together as possible,” said Dayton Moore, Royals general manager. “Continuity and togetherness are crucial if we are to win and be successful in the long term, but it also takes players like Hunter who also sacrifice a few things in the process.”
All but four players who are expected to make an important contribution to the royals this season are under the club’s control until 2022: left-handed Danny Duffy, outfielder Michael Taylor, catcher Salvador Perez and the outfielder Jorge Soler. And in the case of Perez and Soler, they have already expressed interest in new deals for two of the power bats on their lineup.
As for the pitching staff? Most of them are 20-year-olds who won’t even sniff the free hand for a few more years.
“As I’ve told all of our players from the start, we don’t have an agenda,” said Moore. “We know that they only have a very small window of time to reach their financial goals in this game. They deserve certain things and we want them to take advantage of the financial aspect of Major League Baseball. And we want that to happen in Kansas City. “
Dozier’s deal replaces a $ 2.72 million one-year deal that he agreed to on December 2nd.
He will receive a $ 1 million signing bonus and will make $ 2.25 million this year, $ 4.5 million in 2022, $ 7.25 million in 2023, and $ 9 million in 2024. The Royals have a $ 10 million option for 2025 with a $ 1 million buyout.
Dozier’s deal includes an escalator of $ 1.5 million for his salary in 2024 if he hits 1,575 recordings between 2021 and 233, and his option price would increase by $ 1.5 million if he gets between 2021 and 24 Reached 2,100 record appearances – two important considerations given the history of Dozier’s injury.
The 29-year-old Dozier made his big league debut in 2016 but missed most of the following season with an oblique injury and a broken wrist. Dozier also missed out on time with bottlenecks on his team during the 2019 season, and he has not played more than 139 games in a season.
However, his defensive versatility – Dozier can play first base, third base, and outfielder – combined with his strength, base walking ability, and general upward trend means he could have probably commanded more money in the open market.
“I think the biggest thing for me was security for my family,” he said. “I am a family person and I always think of them first. It was a big deal for me, my wife, and my kids. I trusted and listened to my agent Joe (Gaza) and knew if I could choose that I would be king for life – it was a very easy decision for me. I wanna be here I want to win here. “
He knows “here” will mostly be the third base in Kansas City for the next season.
The Royals signed former Native American thug Carlos Santana to a two-year free agent contract for $ 17.5 million and then traded with the Red Sox and Mets to land outfielder Andrew Benintendi. Santana is expected to be the primary baseman and an occasional designated batsman, and Benintendi will take one of the corner squares, clearing Dozier for third base.
“We have always viewed Hunter as a player who not only can play multiple positions but is willing to play multiple positions,” said Moore. “In today’s game, it’s really important to have that versatility and that winning mindset.
“Hunter is ready to do whatever it takes to help the team win,” added Moore. “We have long known that Hunter is a fundamental element of our organization. He’s a basic player, a person, and he represents everything we want in baseball players and people to represent our community. “
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