After unsuccessfully wooing other outfielders on the open market in recent weeks, including former Twin Jacque Jones, Kansas City will use Sanders to fill a void in left field in 2006. The 38-year-old batted .271 with 21 home runs and 54 RBIs last season for the Cardinals and added 12 RBIs for St. Louis in the postseason. He was limited to 93 regular-season games because he fractured the fibula in his right leg in a July collision with center fielder Jim Edmonds.
Negotiations between Sanders and the club escalated Wednesday and went into the late hours before more talks were held Thursday.
"The Royals stepped up to the plate and did what they had to do," Sanders told The Star.
"Other teams were close. The Royals went a little further."
Sanders, a .267 career hitter with 292 home runs, has become the epitome of a journeyman player in recent years -- the Royals will be his eighth club in the last nine years. But during his 15-season Major League career, he's been part of several winning campaigns and participated in three World Series and won it all with the 2001 Diamondbacks.
Mays, who spent all six of his big-league seasons with the Twins, comes to Kansas City with some injury baggage. The 30-year-old sinkerballer won 17 games and pitched a career-high 233 2/3 innings in an All-Star 2001 season, but he has endured a myriad of elbow problems since.
After signing a four-year, $20 million contract before 2002, Mays went 18-26 with a 5.81 ERA and needed Tommy John surgery on his elbow in September 2003. Coming back after missing all of 2004, the right-hander struggled and went 6-10 with a 5.65 ERA last season. His $8.5 million club option for 2006 was not picked up by Minnesota, which made him a free agent.
But despite carrying some risk for the Royals, Mays has had success pitching in KC. He is 4-0 with a 3.89 ERA in eight career appearances at Kauffman Stadium.
Trying to right the club after a miserable 56-106 season in 2005, the Royals signed first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, pitcher Scott Elarton, second baseman Mark Grudzielanek and backup catcher Paul Bako to free-agent contracts.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.