KANSAS CITY -- A little more than a week after retaining the face of the franchise, Alex Gordon, with a four-year, $72 million deal, the defending World Series champion Royals signed All-Star center fielder and rising star Lorenzo Cain to a two-year deal.
The deal is for $17.5 million, with Cain getting $6.5 million in 2016 and $11 million in 2017.
• Hot Stove Tracker
The deal avoids an arbitration hearing with Cain this year and next year. Cain is under club control through 2017, after which he is eligible to become a free agent.
Cain's deal is very similar to the two-year deal the Royals gave Eric Hosmer for $13.9 million last March. Hosmer, too, won't become a free agent until after 2017, but the club prefers to avoid arbitration -- under general manager Dayton Moore, the Royals never have had a case go to arbitration.
Cain, 29, reportedly was seeking a six-year deal, which would have kept him a Royal through age 35. Gordon's deal will keep him a Royal through age 35 as well, and it's not always wise for small-market teams to lock up aging veterans to long-term deals.
Cain was one of two arbitration-eligible Royals who did not settle on a one-year deal Friday. Third baseman Mike Moustakas is the other.
Cain, 29, and the Royals exchanged arbitration figures late Friday afternoon: Cain's camp asked for $7.85 million, while the Royals countered at $5 million.
Cain made $2.725 million last year and is coming off a career year in which he hit .307 with an .838 OPS. He hit 16 homers with 72 RBIs and 28 stolen bases.
Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.