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Busy Offseason: Michael Wacha gets $32M, 2-year Deal with Royals, Hunter Renfroe $13M Contract




KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Royals general manager J.J. Picollo knew he needed to upgrade his rotation and fill a corner outfield spot this offseason.

He took care of both tasks Friday.

In the latest moves in what has become a busy offseason in Kansas City, the Royals agreed to a $32 million, two-year deal with pitcher Michael Wacha and a $13 million, two-year contract with outfielder Hunter Renfroe, people familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreements had not been announced.

Wacha’s deal calls for a $16 million salary next season and contains a $16 million player option for 2025, while Renfroe will get a $5.5 million salary next season with a $7.5 million player option for 2025 and a $1 million buyout.

In addition. the Royals traded outfielder Edward Olivares to the Pittsburgh Pirates for minor league outfielder Deivis Nadal. The 21-year-old Nadal hit .212 with eight homers, 39 RBIs and 33 stolen bases in 101 games for Class A Bradenton last season.

Already this offseason, the Royals signed right-hander Seth Lugo to a $45 million, three-year deal; left-hander Will Smith to a $5 million contract to close out games; agreed with right-handed reliever Chris Stratton on a $4 million deal; signed utility man Garrett Hampson for $2 million; and swung trades with Atlanta to acquire right-handed reliever Nick Anderson and right-handed starter Kyle Wright, who will be ready in 2025 after rehabbing from shoulder surgery.

“We feel like it’s time for us to make a significant move,” Picollo said this week, while introducing Lugo during a news conference at Kauffman Stadium and alluding to the fact that the AL Central is wide open heading into next season.

The Royals have been busy the past couple of weeks due to necessity and opportunity.

On the field, the necessity comes in the overhaul of a roster that lost 106 games in manager Matt Quatraro’s first season, when depth issues, injuries and ineffectiveness conspired against them. Off the field, the necessity comes in trying to prove to a weary fanbase of their desire to compete just as they are trying to gain public support for a new stadium.

The opportunity comes in the fact that many of the Royals’ best players, such as Bobby Witt Jr., Vinnie Pasquantino and Maikel Garcia, are not yet eligible for arbitration, which means they are playing on modest salaries. And that has given the Royals some financial flexibility to surround them with some veteran players.

The 32-year-old Wacha, who was teammates with Lugo this past season in San Diego, was 14-4 with a 3.22 ERA in 24 starts for the Padres. He didn’t pitch for the Padres between July 1 and Aug. 15 because of right shoulder inflammation.

Wacha was an All-Star in 2015 with the Cardinals, and is 88-54 with a 3.96 ERA over 11 seasons that have included stints with the Mets, Rays and Red Sox. Along the way, the right-hander was the MVP of the 2013 NL Championship Series.

Renfroe, who turns 32 next month, is primarily a right fielder but also plays center and first base. He hit .233 with 20 homers and 60 RBIs this past season for the Angels and Cincinnati, which claimed him off waivers on Aug. 31 as Los Angeles cut payroll to try to avoid the luxury tax.

Renfroe has a career .239 average but provides some pop that the Royals were seeking in their lineup. He’s hit 177 homers with 454 RBIs in eight big league seasons that include time with the Padres, Rays, Red Sox and Brewers.

“There is a core here that we like a lot,” Picollo said. “We’ve talk about Bobby and Vinnie, but adding pieces around that core was important, and also just experience. Getting guys who have experience in the game that our players have not experienced is a big part of it. When you put those two things together, you hopefully get a mixture of guys that come together, play for one another, put team ahead of themselves and you end up doing some special things together.”