General manager Dayton Moore said Wednesday that the Royals had reached an agreement on a one-year contract with Ramirez, who was with them for a month and a half last season.
"We're going to give him a chance to come in and compete as a starter," Moore said.
The Royals had been facing the possibility of another season without a left-handed starter, a role Ramirez filled in the past with the Atlanta Braves and the Seattle Mariners.
"He really didn't pitch much last year. He's had health issues, but he's a great makeup guy and he knows how to pitch. He's a great athlete and Mac [pitching coach Bob McClure] likes him a lot," Moore said.
Ramirez, who's had shoulder problems in the past, was released by the Mariners in Spring Training but signed a Minor League contract with the Royals on May 21. He pitched for Triple-A Omaha and was called up on June 22.
Ramirez made 15 relief appearances for the Royals, with a 2.59 ERA and a 1-1 record. Then, on Aug. 9, he was traded to the Chicago White Sox for Minor League outfielder Paulo Orlando.
But he had a rough time with the White Sox. They used Ramirez in 17 games and just 13 innings in which he was 0-3 with a 7.62 ERA. He became a free agent after the season.
The Royals want to insert a left-hander in their rotation, which was shaping up as all-right-handed with Gil Meche, Zack Greinke, Brian Bannister, Luke Hochevar, Kyle Davies and possibly Brandon Duckworth. Left-hander John Bale, who started last season in the rotation, made just three starts before getting hurt. Bale will be used in relief in 2009.
Ramirez's best season was his rookie year of 2003, when he was 12-4 with a 4.00 ERA in 29 starts for the Braves. In his big league career, he has a 39-33 record and a 4.59 ERA in 138 games (104 starts).
Meantime, Moore indicated the Royals are close to a deal in their quest for a right-handed setup man. But it's not likely to come immediately.
"I wouldn't anticipate anything there until over the weekend or Monday, I would think," Moore said.
The Royals are believed to have interest in Juan Cruz, Kyle Farnsworth, Brandon Lyon and Russ Springer among others.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.