The Royals announced the signing of left-handed pitcher Bruce Chen on Saturday, a day after manager Ned Yost projected Chen as part of the starting rotation.
His contract is for one year and $3 million and includes a $5.5 million mutual option for 2015 with a $1.25 million buyout.
Chen’s deal also awards him another $125,000 for each start between No. 16 and No. 25, for a potential of $1.25 million on top of his $4.25 million in guaranteed money this season.
To clear space on the 40-man roster, infielder Emilio Bonifacio was designated for assignment.
Chen, 36, who had been a starter in his first four years with the Royals, opened last year in the bullpen but returned to the starting rotation after the All-Star break. For the season, he went 9-4 with a 3.27 ERA in 34 appearances, including 15 starts.
“There is nowhere else I would rather be,” Chen said Saturday during an appearance at the Royals FanFest in Bartle Hall.
Yost said Friday that Chen, James Shields, Jason Vargas and Jeremy Guthrie figure to hold down four starting spots with a fifth rotation spot up for grabs among several candidates.
Bonifacio, 28, was traded to the Royals last August and hit .285 with 16 stolen bases for the Royals.
The Royals and Bonifacio avoided arbitration two weeks ago by agreeing to a one-year, $3.5 million contract, though it is not fully guaranteed. By designating Bonifacio for assignment, the Royals have several options, including trading him.
The move also sends a signal that the Royals may have reached their payroll limit. Without Bonifacio’s contract, the team’s payroll stands around $89 million.
Bonifacio had splits of just .243 batting/.295 on-base /.331 slugging over 461 plate appearances last season, but he has speed and experience at multiple positions, so he figures to find a home as a bench player. The Royals might be able to find a trade partner in the coming days.