An already formidable Royals bullpen may have gotten even better for 2015, as Kansas City welcomes back a familiar pitcher who ultimately decided not to leave.
A free agent for the first time in his career, Luke Hochevar opted to stick with the only professional organization he's known when he signed a two-year contract with the Royals on Thursday. The deal also includes a mutual option for 2017. Terms of the agreement were not released by the club, though CBSSports.com, which first broke news of an agreement on Wednesday, reported the contract to be worth $10 million.
Hochevar, 31, missed the 2014 season while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, which he underwent in March. He began a throwing program late in the season with the intention of being ready to pitch by Opening Day.
The top overall selection in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, Hochevar debuted with the Royals in 2007 and was a member of the rotation for the next five years. After posting a 5.73 ERA in 32 starts in 2012, Hochevar moved into the bullpen full time in 2013.
There, he thrived, going 5-2 with a 1.92 ERA, a .169 opponents batting average and a 0.825 WHIP in 58 appearances. His 82 strikeouts in 70 1/3 innings were the sixth most among American League relievers, while his 10.49 strikeouts per nine innings ranked eighth in club history.
Once healthy, Hochevar will rejoin a bullpen that is also returning Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera and Greg Holland, three relievers who played a key role in helping push the Royals to their first World Series berth in 29 years.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.