Royals reach 1-year deal with RHP Luke Hochevar

Royals reach 1-year deal with RHP Luke Hochevar
January 18, 2013, 6:35 pm
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The Kansas City Royals had already decided to give Luke Hochevar another chance.

Now they know exactly how much it's going to cost.

The Royals agreed to a one-year, $4.56 million deal with the right-hander on Friday to avoid arbitration. The deal includes up to $100,000 in performance bonuses.

Hochevar made 29 starts last season, going 8-16 with a 5.73 ERA. The former No. 1 overall pick showed flashes in some starts of the kind of pitcher the Royals hoped he would become, but he also had plenty of erratic outings that left team officials scratching their heads.

Royals manager Ned Yost has been among the most ardent supporters of Hochevar, saying just last month that he still believes the 29-year-old right-hander can turn the corner.

``We'll just see how it plays out, get to spring training and let him go,'' Yost said.

Spring training is where Hochevar will have to define his role, too.

The Royals were aggressive this offseason in rebuilding their starting rotation, trading with the Los Angeles Angels for Ervin Santana and his $13 million contract, and then making a blockbuster deal with the Tampa Bay Rays to acquire James Shields and Wade Davis. Kansas City gave up top prospect Wil Myers and several other pieces to get that deal done.

The Royals also signed Jeremy Guthrie to a $25 million, three-year deal. Guthrie was acquired in a mid-season trade from Colorado and pitched well down the stretch.

That means four of the five spots in the rotation are solidified, and Hochevar will compete with right-hander Luis Mendoza and left-handers Bruce Chen and Will smith for the final job.

The Royals already had one of the best bullpens in the American League last season, anchored by hard-throwing right-hander Greg Holland in the closer role. But should Hochevar lose out on a rotation spot, it's possible that he could become the Royals' long reliever.

Of course, he'd be carrying a hefty price tag for the job.

Hochevar's contract for next season represents a substantial increase over the $3.51 million he made last season, and came in part thanks to a career-best 144 strikeouts in 185.1 innings.

Still, his career over parts of six seasons is 38-59 with a 5.39 ERA, and many believe he regressed last season after going 11-11 with a 4.68 ERA in 2011.

``If you're going to win consistently in the major leagues, you're going to need a rotation that gives you innings, competes, helps you win,'' general manager Dayton Moore said recently. ``That's what our goal is, to put together a very good rotation. We feel we've done that.''