KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Royals and third baseman Hunter Dozier have agreed to a $25 million, four-year contract that includes a fifth-year option, a person with knowledge of the agreement told The Associated Press on Sunday.
The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal was pending a physical. ESPN.com was first to report the extension, which buys out two years of free agency and includes several escalators and bonuses.
“As I've said many times, we want to keep as many of our talented players as we possibly can,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said last week, when the team reported for full-squad workouts in Surprise, Arizona. “We'll always look to do that when the opportunity is right. There is a rhythm to that, there is a timing to all those decisions.”
The 29-year-old Dozier has long been considered a cornerstone of the Royals rebuild, especially after a breakthrough 2019 season in which he hit 26 homers, tied for the American League lead with 10 triples and drove in 84 runs. But he missed the start of last season with COVID-19 and wound up hitting just .228 with six homers and 12 RBIs in 44 games.
Still, the Royals believe Dozier will revert to form with a full spring training and 162-game season.
“I definitely don't think you throw it away,” he said. “It's a learning experience. It's a season we hopefully never have to go through again. I think it was the hardest mental season we've been through. I mean, 60 games — there's a lot of pressure in a 60-game season. Normally you play 162. You have time to go through slumps. A 60-game season, you don't have time for that, as a team and as an individual. So I'm definitely looking forward to a normal season.”
Dozier is also looking forward to a consistent spot in the everyday lineup. He has regularly moved between first base, third base and right field the past few years, but the signing of longtime Cleveland first baseman Carlos Santana coupled with a trade for Boston outfielder Andrew Benintendi means Dozier will primarily play third base this season.
Not to mention Santana and Benintendi should help Dozier see better pitches in a vastly improved batting order.