The Royals avoided arbitration with five players Friday and reportedly did the same with All-Star center fielder Lorenzo Cain, reaching a two-year, $17.5 million agreement.
The contract agreement with Cain was reported by ESPN and Yahoo! Sports. The Royals had yet to announce an agreement, but if reached, the team’s only unsigned player who filed for arbitration would be All-Star third baseman Mike Moustakas.
On the day players who filed for arbitration and teams were required to exchange figures, the Royals announced one-year contracts with left-hander Danny Duffy, outfielder Jarrod Dyson, right-handed reliever Louis Coleman and backup catchers Drew Butera and Tony Cruz.
But Cain and Moustakas asked for more, according to figures obtained by The Associated Press. Cain filed at $7.85 million before reportedly agreeing to the two-year deal; the Royals countered at $5 million. Moustakas filed at $7 million while the Royals countered at $4.2 million.
The arbitration process is designed to produce settlements. If a case reaches a hearing, which will be scheduled for February, a three-person panel chooses either the player’s or team’s salary. The Royals have yet to go to an arbitration hearing with any player under general manager Dayton Moore, although negotiations with Eric Hosmer last winter went down to the wire before he agreed to a two-year contract.
Cain, 29, made $2.8 million last year, his first arbitration-eligible season, and finished third in the American League Most Valuable Player voting. He ranked fifth in the American League in batting average (.307), fifth in runs (101), second in stolen bases (28) fourth in Baseball-Reference’s version of defensive wins above replacement (2.3) and fourth in overall wins above replacement (7.2).
Moustakas, 27, made $2.7 million last season and delivered the best offensive season in his career, hitting .284 with 22 home runs and 82 RBIs while earning his first All-Star selection, along with Cain. Both players are in their second of three arbitration years and scheduled to reach free agency after the 2017 season. Crasnick reported Cain would make $6.5 million in 2016 — about $500,000 more than the midpoint — and $11 million in 2017 before reaching free agency.
As for the players who did reach agreements with the Royals, Duffy came out the biggest winner. The club did not announce terms, but Duffy will make $4.225 million, a $1.8 million raise, a source with knowledge of the contracts told The Star. Dyson settled for $1.725 million, Butera for $1.1625 million, Cruz for $975,000 and Coleman for $725,000.
Dyson’s contract represents a $500,000 raise from 2015, his first arbitration-eligible season. Cruz, who was acquired in a Dec. 2 trade from St. Louis, made $775,000 last season. Coleman, who was arbitration eligible for the first time, receives the same salary. All five players would receive $50,000 bonuses if they are selected to the American League All-Star team this summer. Butera is also eligible for a $12,500 raise if he appears in 25 games.
The Royals will give a look to Dyson, 31, as a potential starter in right field this season. He hit .250 with eight doubles, six triples, two home runs and 26 stolen bases in 29 tries during 90 games in 2015.
Duffy, 27, was 7-8 with a 4.08 ERA in 30 regular-season appearances, including 24 starts. He was used as a reliever in the postseason but will be in the starting rotation mix this spring.
Cruz, 29, will compete with Butera for the Royals’ backup catcher position behind Salvador Perez. Cruz hit .204 last season with seven doubles, two home runs and 11 RBIs in 69 games for the Cardinals. Butera, 32, hit .198 with three doubles and one home run in 55 games for the Royals last season.
Coleman, 29, is out of options but cleared waivers before the start of the 2015 season and was sent to Class AAA Omaha, where he was 8-2 with a 1.69 ERA in 38 appearances before earning a September call-up to Kansas City, where he threw three scoreless innings in four appearances.
Excluding Cain, the Royals have 21 players under contract for 2016 totaling $106.5 million in salary. That does include left-hander Jason Vargas, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Using Cain’s reported 2016 salary of $6.5 million and Moustakas’ midpoint of $5.6 million, the Royals’ opening-day payroll for the 25-man roster would top $120 million.
▪ Also Friday, the Yankees claimed former Royals outfielder Lane Adams off outright waivers. Adams was designated for assignment Jan. 7 to clear 40-man roster space for the return of left fielder Alex Gordon.
The Star’s Pete Grathoff contributed to this report