The Kansas City Royals have added another name to the mix for the rotation.
Free agent Bruce Chen, who pitched for the Royals last season, returns to the club on a one-year, $4.25 million guaranteed contract. The deal will pay Chen $3.25 million for 2014, with a $5.5 million mutual option for 2015. Should that option not be exercised, the Royals will pay Chen a $1 million buyout. There will also be performance-based incentives; Chen will earn another $125,000 per start beginning with his sixteenth game started.
The lefty Chen epitomized what most clubs want out of a swing-man, long-relief pitcher. He went 9-4 with a 3.27 ERA, making 15 starts and 19 relief appearances. He pitched a total of 121 innings a year after he made a career-high 34 starts and pitching in 191.2 innings. Despite a very low velocity fastball, Chen has become a centerpiece of the Royals’ pitching staff, working primarily as a starter for the club before struggles at the end of 2013 forced him into the swing-man role.
The Royals’ rotation will feature James Shields, Jeremy Guthrie, Jason Vargas, and Danny Duffy. In competition with the 15-year veteran Chen for spot number five will be Yordano Ventura, Luke Hochevar, and Wade Davis.