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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Royals have been so busy this offseason they gave out two No. 15 jerseys in one week.
The latest player to don that number is Alex Rios, who signed an $11 million, one-year deal Friday that includes a mutual option for the 2016 season. Rios will take over right field for Nori Aoki, who departed in free agency, and should give the Royals a big boost of power.
His signing comes days after designated hitter Kendrys Morales signed a $17 million, two-year deal. Morales had also slipped on a white No. 15 jersey, though apparently some back-room brokering took place so that Rios will be able to wear his first big league number again.
"He didn't ask for anything," Rios said with a smile, "but I'll use my imagination."
Rios, who is coming off an injury plagued season in Texas, will make $9.5 million this season. His deal includes $12.5 million the following year with a $1.5 million buyout.
"I've been coming here for quite a long time," Rios said during a news conference Friday at Kauffman Stadium. "I see this is a young group of guys moving forward in the right direction. I think it was the right fit for me at this time."
Rios, who turns 34 in February, had been with Texas since August 2013 and hit .280 this year with four homers and 54 RBIs. He set career highs with the White Sox in 2012 with 25 homers and 91 RBIs.
Selected by Toronto with the 19th overall pick in the 1999 amateur draft, Rios has a .278 average in 11 big league seasons. But more importantly to Kansas City, which hit a major league-low 95 homers last season, Rios has pounded 165 home runs over the course of his career.
"Alex fits our ballpark, our style of play," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. "He's going to be able to range well for us in the outfield. I believe he's capable of hitting 40-plus doubles in this ballpark and no doubt his home run totals will improve."
The two-time All-Star has been linked to the Royals in the past, but their ability to get him on the open market on a one-year deal allows them flexibility in the future. It also gives them a bit of protection if Rios is unable to come back from injuries that curtailed last season.
"I played through the second half of the season with two injuries, actually. I had a bad ankle and my thumb was swollen up and I had to get surgery," Rios said. "I believe it did affect me a little bit. I didn't want to use it as an excuse, but I really believe it affected my performance during the second half. I believe if I was health, I could have done better."
Rios insists he's healthy now. The Royals are banking on it, too.
Kansas City has been busy since ending a 29-year playoff drought by taking the San Francisco Giants to Game 7 of the World Series. Along with signing Rios and Morales to pump up the offense, the Royals have signed right-hander Kris Medlen and are nearing a deal with right-hander Edinson Volquez.
Medlen, who signed an $8.5 million, two-year deal Thursday, is coming off his second Tommy John surgery. The Royals hope he will be able to contribute during the second half of the season.
Volquez is close to signing a $20 million, two-year deal to fill the spot in the Royals' rotation that staff ace James Shields had occupied. Shields is expected to sign elsewhere as a free agent.
The Royals announced a couple of other minor moves on Friday, waiving outfielder Carlos Peguero to carve out roster space for Rios and trading second baseman Johnny Giavotella to the Angels for the rights to right-handed reliever Brian Broderick.
Giavotella had been designated for assignment on Thursday.
"We know full well we'll have to continue to make adjustments on our roster. It's not a push-button club, it never was," Moore said. "But right now, we feel like we're in a good position to start spring training and to start the season."
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