January 30, 2014

Lefty Bruce Chen will return to Royals for 2014

Left-hander Bruce Chen will return to the Royals in 2014, he confirmed in a text message to The Star. He reportedly agreed to a one-year contract worth a guaranteed $4.25 million.

Bruce Chen, who played for nine teams in his first 10 major-league seasons, will return for a sixth season with the Royals.

Chen confirmed in a text message to The Star that he would be back in 2014, but said he could not comment more at this time. The Royals did not announce a signing, but

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports

reported that Chen agreed to a one-year contract worth a guaranteed $4.25 million — $3.25 million in salary for 2014 plus a $1 million buyout on a $5.5 million mutual option for 2015.

Chen, a left-hander, ranks among the Royals’ most versatile pitchers. After serving as a starter for most of first five seasons, Chen opened last season in the bullpen as a long reliever.

But in mid-July, he replaced Luis Mendoza in the rotation, and Chen delivered. In 15 starts, Chen went 6-4 with a 3.61 ERA and opponents hit .222 against him. He went 9-4 on the season.

He could be a candidate as the Royals’ fifth starter this year or return to the bullpen. The rotation figures to include James Shields, Jason Vargas and Jeremy Guthrie, along with candidates Danny Duffy, Wade Davis, Yordano Ventura and perhaps Luke Hochevar.

Chen, the second-longest-tenured Royals pitcher behind Hochevar, gives the Royals flexibility. He owns a 45-39 record and 4.32 ERA with the Royals.

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