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SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Kansas City Royals and veteran slugger Kendrys Morales agreed to a $17 million, two-year contract, a person familiar with the negotiations told the Associated Press on Thursday.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was subject to Morales passing a physical. Morales is expected to take over at designated hitter for Billy Butler, who left as a free agent and agreed to a $30 million, three-year deal with Oakland.
Morales will get $6.5 million next year and $9 million in 2016. The deal includes an $11 million mutual option for 2017 with a $1.5 million buyout. Morales can make an additional $750,000 in performance bonuses in each of the first two seasons based on plate appearances: $50,000 for 375 and $100,000 apiece for 400 and each additional 25 until 550.
The agreement highlighted a busy day at baseball's winter meetings for the Royals, who also acquired right-hander Jandel Gustave in a deal with the Red Sox.
Boston selected Gustave off Houston's Triple-A roster in the Rule 5 draft.
The Royals are still searching for a starting pitcher to replace James Shields, who is expected to sign elsewhere in free agency. Among the names that had been linked to the Royals, Ervin Santana, Justin Masterson and Brandon McCarthy had already agreed to join other teams.
The Royals are also in the market for a right fielder after losing Nori Aoki to free agency, and have had talks with Melky Cabrera, who spent time in Kansas City during the 2011 season.
Kansas City could also reunite with Aoki, who played well down the stretch, or go after less-pricy options such as Colby Rasmus. The Royals have few internal options to fill the void, but in a pinch could use Jarrod Dyson as an everyday centerfielder and move Lorenzo Cain to right.
As for Morales, the Royals are taking a gamble that last season was an aberration.
The 31-year-old designated hitter and first baseman hit just .218 with eight homers and 42 RBIs in 98 games with the Twins and Mariners. Those numbers were far below his career average of .271, and a shadow of his best year with the Angels, when he hit .306 with 34 homers in 2009.
Just two years ago, though, Morales hit .277 with 23 homers for Seattle.
That kind of production would help the Royals absorb the loss of Butler, who did not have his $12.5 million option picked up after one of the worst seasons of his career.
Butler still hit .271, but he only had nine homers and 66 RBIs for a team that had a perilous lack of power. His playing time also decreased late in the season as he seemed to fall out of favor with manager Ned Yost, though he was back starting for the Royals' run to the World Series.
AP Sports Writer Dave Skretta in Kansas City, Mo., contributed to this report.
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