KANSAS CITY, MO: Starting pitcher Bruce Chen #52 of the Kansas City Royals wipes his face after giving up a RBI single to Jim Thome of the Cleveland Indians in the first inning at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
The Kansas City Royals have re-signed starting pitcher Bruce Chen to a two-year contract worth a $9 million base salary.
Some time ago, the Kansas City Royals traded Melky Cabrera to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for the charitably mercurial Jonathan Sanchez. Lest you believe that Sanchez was supposed to be the entire answer to the Royals' pitching woes, though, Dayton Moore has supplied another talent injection.
Earlier Wednesday, on a day with little other baseball news of consequence, it was reported that the Royals were getting closer to re-signing free agent starter Bruce Chen. The Royals wanted to keep him, and Chen wanted to stay, so it appeared that there was a match. Later Wednesday, Jon Heyman confirmed that a match was there, and declared that an agreement had been reached. Heyman:
Bruce chen to sign with #royals for $9M plus $1M roster bonus plus $1M in incentives
Chen's $9M deal with royals is for 2 yrs (also gets $1M roster bonus, $1M incentives)
To put that in better English, Bruce Chen has re-signed with the Royals on a two-year contract worth $9 million in base salary, with $1 million in playing time incentives and $1 million in whatever a roster bonus is. If a roster bonus is a bonus for making the roster then that sure seems like something that doesn't need to exist for a player like Chen. If a roster bonus is something else, please do not explain it to me, because I prefer it the way I imagine it.
This'll be a raise for Chen, who had a one-year contract with a $2 million base salary and $1.5 million in incentives a year ago. The highest salary Chen has ever earned before was $3.8 million in 2006, for which he rewarded the Orioles with a 6.93 ERA over 98⅔ innings. He did not earn $3.8 million in 2007.
Chen has kind of found himself a home in Kansas City. He arrived in 2009 after signing a minor league contract. He's been with the Royals ever since, posting a 4.28 ERA over more than 350 innings and 57 starts. There isn't any one thing he does fantastically well, but he's at least adequate across the board, making him a perfectly useful starter. The Royals always need more perfectly useful starters, so they'll be happy to have Chen back, and Chen will presumably be happy to return. Maybe you shouldn't make a habit of giving 34-year-olds with marshmallow fastballs guaranteed two-year contracts, but Chen is inexpensive enough to keep from being a disaster, even in the worst-case scenario. And he'll probably be fine.
Interestingly, Chen has a reputation for being a journeyman, and it's well-deserved, as he's played for ten different major league teams over the course of his career. That is quite a lot. With his eighth appearance as a Royal in 2012, though, he will have made more appearances with the Royals than with any other team. Will you remember Bruce Chen for his time with the Royals after his career has come to a close? Mathematically, you should. In reality, you probably won't remember Bruce Chen at all. You're so forgetful!