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Royals sign Kendrys Morales to two-year, $17 million deal

The Royals have found Billy Butler's replacement at designated hitter.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Royals have found their solution at designated hitter, signing free agent slugger Kendrys Morales to a two-year, $17 million deal, according to Yahoo Sports' Jeff PassanMLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo was the first to report that a deal was close, while CBS Sports' Jon Heyman noted its completion. The contract includes a mutual option for 2017, as well as up to $750,000 available each year via performance incentives.

For the Royals, this move is a clear response to longtime DH Billy Butler's departure to Oakland earlier this winter. As it is, Morales is quite a fitting replacement considering he was openly seeking "Billy Butler money", which was probably a little far-fetched, as a two-year deal, which he got, seemed to be the maximum anybody would (and should) go on him.

Along with Ervin Santanawho also signed today, Morales was a victim of the qualifying offer last offseason, and wound up sitting out until June before finally agreeing to a one-year deal with the Minnesota Twins worth less than the $14.1 qualifying offer. He struggled with the Twins, hitting just .234/.259/.325 in 162 plate appearances before being quickly dealt to the Seattle Mariners, where he had spent the 2013 season. With Seattle, he continued to perform poorly, posting just a .207/.285/.347 slash line in 239 plate appearances.

While Morales' performance was clearly atrocious last season, he has been a well-above-average hitter for much of his career. From 2009-2013 (though he missed all of 2011 due to injury), he hit .286/.339/.494 for a 128 OPS+ and 11.0 WAR. With the Mariners in 2013, Morales hit a robust .277/.336/.449 with 23 home runs, a 123 OPS+, and 2.8 WAR. While Morales probably can't be expected to be a heart-of-the-order thumper again, he should be able to provide the Royals with plenty of sorely needed pop.