A free agent for the first time in his 11-year MLB career, Alex Rios has opted to sign with the Kansas City Royals. 

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman provides details of the new contract:

Rios, who hired Scott Boras as his agent after the Texas Rangers declined his $13.5 million club option for 2015, will be 34 years old when the season starts.

Much like the rest of the Rangers, Rios’ 2014 campaign was mostly forgettable.

While his batting average hovered around .300 for much of the season and finished at a respectable .280, the pop in his bat almost completely disappeared.

In 521 plate appearances, Rios hit just four home runsthe same amount as San Franciso Giants ace Madison Bumgarner. His home run-to-fly-ball percentage was a measly 2.9 percent, while his OPS (.709) was his worst mark since 2011.

He hit 30 doubles and eight triples, so there was a bit of bad luck not to have more home runs, but it was still a major regression in the power department nonetheless.

As Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan noted, it’s the second move by Kansas City this offseason that banks on a bounce-back campaign:

There are reasons to be encouraged. Even in what was essentially a replacement-level season, the veteran crushed left-handed pitching, finishing with a slash line of .325/.353/.545 in 133 plate appearances. He also stole 17 bases, showcasing solid speed.

Perhaps most importantly, he wasn’t exactly healthy. He battled rib and ankle injuries down the stretch, which forced him to miss 31 games, the most since 2006 for the typically durable player.

“His numbers were down because of the injuries,” his former agent, Paul Kinzer, told The Dallas Morning News‘ Gerry Fraley on Oct. 15. “He stayed in the lineup and tried to do all he could because of what was happening with the team.”

Rios hit .305/.333/.440 with 16 stolen bases in the first half of last season and just .211/.246/.281 with one steal in the second half, so perhaps a return to full health will produce better overall numbers. 

While $11 million is a bit steep, the free-agent market was quickly drying up, and Kansas City took some of the risk out of the move by making it a one-year deal. 

If Rios, who has made a habit throughout his career of following up disappointing seasons with serviceable ones, can simply find some of his lost power, he’ll be a nice addition for manager Ned Yost.


All stats via Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs.

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