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Royals reach deal with OF Maier to avoid arbitration

Major League Baseball

POSTED January 17, 2012 9:16 p.m.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Royals agreed to one-year contracts with pitchers Jonathan Sanchez, Luke Hochevar and Felipe Paulino along with reserve outfielder Mitch Maier on Tuesday, leaving outfielder Alex Gordon as the only remaining player in arbitration.
The Royals are hopeful of signing Gordon to a long-term deal.
Sanchez will get $5.6 million and is eligible for up to $200,000 in bonuses after arriving in an offseason trade that sent outfielder Melky Cabrera to San Francisco. Hochevar will make $3.51 million, Paulino is in line for $1.9 million and Maier will make $865,000, not counting performance bonuses.
General manager Dayton Moore, who was traveling to Latin America on Tuesday, said last week he was hopeful that deals would get done with each of the players before arbitration.
He also indicated that he’d like to get a deal done with Gordon, who was drafted by the Royals and has expressed interest in signing a long-term deal before he reaches free agency. Gordon has asked for $5.45 million in arbitration, while Kansas City has countered at $4.15 million.
“Every day you’re working to try to improve. You don’t want to get too crazy, force things,” Moore said. “I think I’ve learned the last few years not to be too forceful, to force things that may not work. When you have the group we have right now, it’s easier to be patient.”
Sanchez, Hochevar and Bruce Chen are expected to anchor the Royals’ starting rotation, while Paulino is a favorite to land one of the remaining jobs.
The subject of trade speculation for years, Sanchez was the Giants’ best pitcher during the latter part of 2010, when they beat the Texas Rangers to win the World Series. He was 4-1 with a 1.03 ERA over his last seven outings, and finished the year with a 13-9 record and a 3.07 ERA.
He struggled most of last season, though, partly due to biceps tendinitis, going 4-7 with a 4.26 ERA. He missed the final month with a left ankle sprain.
Hochevar finally experienced a breakthrough in his fifth big league season. The former No. 1 overall draft pick went 11-11 with a 4.68 ERA, leading the Royals in innings (198), strikeouts (128) and giving an indication that he can match up with an opposing team’s ace.
Paulino was acquired from Colorado for cash in May. He wound up going 4-6 with a 4.11 ERA once he arrived in Kansas City.
The 29-year-old Maier is the longest-tenured player on the Royals roster. He was drafted in the first round in 2003 but has struggled to crack the starting lineup. Still, he provides depth at both corner outfield spots after hitting .232 and driving in seven runs last season.
Kansas City also signed second baseman Chris Getz and catcher Brayan Pena on Monday, avoiding arbitration. Both are expected to be backups.


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