In nearly a decade as Royals general manager, Dayton Moore had never gone to an arbitration hearing with an eligible player. On Thursday evening, in the week before the Royals will report to spring training in Surprise, Ariz., the streak stayed alive.
The Royals agreed to a two-year contract with third baseman Mike Moustakas, finishing their final piece of offseason housekeeping as the club prepares to defend its World Series championship.
The deal will pay Moustakas $14.3 million over his final two arbitration-eligible years. He will make $5.6 million in 2016 and $8.7 million in 2017, according to a source familiar with the deal. Moustakas is set to become a free agent after the 2017 season, and the deal will not alter that future. But the club has locked in cost certainty for the 2017 season.
The Royals, per club policy, did not announce the terms of the deal.
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By agreeing to the deal, the Royals avoided arbitration with a corner infielder coming off a career year in 2015. Moustakas, buoyed by a new approach at the plate, batted .284 with a .348 on-base percentage and 22 homers last season.
He received his first All-Star nod with a sterling first half. He began the season hitting in the two-hole, raking during April and May, and he carried the momentum in the second half. His OPS-plus — which had previously peaked at 91 in 2012 — was 118.
He was, in other words, a core piece of the Royals’ first world championship in 30 years, a former first-round pick who was present for the entirety of the Royals’ revival.
In the weeks before spring training, Moustakas sounded an optimistic tone that a deal would be struck before a possible arbitration hearing. He had loyalty toward his agent, Scott Boras, Moustakas said, but he also loved the Royals. He hinted that a two-year deal was a possibility.
Earlier this year, the Royals signed center fielder Lorenzo Cain to a similar deal, buying out his final two years of arbitration. On Thursday, they did the same for Moustakas.