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Royals re-sign Mike Moustakas to 1-year deal

Mike Moustakas returns to the only club he’s ever known after the free-agent market for him failed to materialize.

Chicago White Sox v Kansas City Royals Photo by Brian Davidson/Getty Images

The Royals have re-signed third baseman Mike Moustakas to a one-year deal with a mutual option for a second year, per Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan. Moustakas receives $6.5 million guaranteed and has the opportunity to earn as much as $22.7 million.

Moustakas will earn a $5.5 million base salary with $2.2 million in incentives this year, and his mutual option for 2019 will pay him $15 million if it’s picked up, while he’ll receive a $1 million buyout if either side turns it down, according to Passan. Jon Heyman and Robert Murray of FanRag Sports were the first to indicate that a deal was close on Thursday evening.

Moustakas, 29, returns to Kansas City — where he’s played all seven of his major-league seasons to date — after failing to gain much interest on the free-agent market this offseason. Even after he posted a career-high .835 OPS with 38 homers, breaking the Royals’ single-season franchise record set by Steve Balboni in 1985, Moustakas apparently was less desirable than other free agents such as Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart. Teams like the Cardinals and Braves that could’ve upgraded at third chose to stick with in-house options, while the Giants (Evan Longoria) and Yankees (Brandon Drury) filled holes at third via the trade market. After rejecting a $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Royals, Moustakas will now receive nearly $10 million less in guaranteed money than he would’ve if he had taken the ultra-safe route and accepted the QO.

It’s unclear how the re-signing of Moustakas, a .251/.305/.425 career hitter, will affect Kansas City’s lineup. Moustakas could be in line to see more action at designated hitter in 2018, as Royals manager Ned Yost said earlier this spring that he wants to get 25-year-old third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert 500 at-bats this season. Cuthbert could also shift to DH, as both players have graded out rather poorly as defenders over their respective careers, though conventional wisdom would lead one to believe that the younger player has a better chance of improving. If Moustakas and Cuthbert are everyday fixtures, that could mean less playing time for Jorge Soler, who was projected to get a majority of the Royals’ available DH at-bats this season, though Soler could still see action at the outfield corners behind Alex Gordon and Jorge Bonifacio.