After a solid 2014 campaign, the Royals decided they want Yordano Ventura to be in their rotation long term. According to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, the Royals signed Ventura to a five-year, $23 million contract that includes a pair of option years and is pending a physical. Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan was the first to report the two sides were close to a deal on Friday night.
Ventura, 23, will see his new deal begin this season and had success in his first full season with Kansas City. He posted a 3.20 ERA and 3.60 FIP in 183.0 innings and made 30 starts. His fastball routinely hits 100 mph, and a consistent regular season was punctuated by a seven shutout inning performance in Game 6 of the World Series against the Giants.
Although the Royals are pleased with his progress, the club may be taking a risk. Since his fastball velocity is notably high, he may be plagued by arm issues moving forward. Ventura was out with injuries on a pair of occasions last season, initially with elbow-related discomfort and then with shoulder soreness in the postseason.
In addition to a plus fastball, Ventura's changeup and curveball enabled him to keep hitters off balance throughout the postseason, where in 25.1 innings he also posted a 3.20 ERA.
Ventura was signed by the Royals out of the Dominican Republic in 2008. His deal is comparable to that of the Braves' Julio Teheran, who sixed s six-year, $32.4 million deal last spring with the same amount of major league service time to his name. Ventura will not be arbitration eligible until 2017 and not eligible for free agency until 2020.
The Royals appear to have financial stability despite an opening day payroll expected to be around $110 million. As Passan notes, Alex Gordon will be a free agent after the season and Eric Hosmer, Greg Holland, and Danny Duffy will all be receiving raises through arbitration. As a result, the organization may be active at the trading deadline and next offseason, depending on its 2015 performance.