According to a major-league source, Hochevar's deal will pay him $4 million in 2015 and $5.5 million in 2016, and includes a $7 million mutual option or $500K buyout for the 2017 season. The contract includes performance bonuses if Hochevar works as either a starter or reliever, including an escalator that raises his 2016 salary to $6.5 million if he starts 23 games or pitches 150 innings for Kansas City.
Hochevar, who has spent his entire career in Kansas City after being selected as the first overall pick in the 2006 draft, did not pitch in 2014 after undergoing Tommy John surgery during spring training. He was a very good bullpen arm for the Royals in 2013, posting a 5-2 record and 1.92 ERA in 58 appearances, and likely drew strong interest from teams looking for bullpen help on the open market.
Hochevar struggled as a starter in five full seasons with the Royals, posting a lifetime 5.44 ERA in 128 starts, but found his niche in the pen in 2013 and is likely to be a valuable asset moving forward. Kansas City still has its three-headed monster of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland for late-game situations, so the signing of Hochevar likely means that he would be a sixth-inning guy or could move to a later-inning role if one of the other relievers was moved this winter.