Royals finalize three-year deal with reliever Soria

Joakim Soria, then with Detroit, delivers a pitch against the Royals last May.

Peter Aiken/Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Royals finalized a three-year, $25 million deal with Joakim Soria on Thursday, reuniting the former All-Star reliever with the club where he spent his first five seasons.

Soria will make $7 million next season, $8 million the following and $9 million in 2018, with up to $4 million in incentives each year. A $10 million option for 2019 has a $1 million buyout.

Soria was one of the game’s premier closers during his first stint in Kansas City, but he missed the 2012 season for Tommy John surgery and the Royals decided not to exercise their option on him. He signed with Texas and since pitched for Detroit and Pittsburgh.

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Soria went 3-1 with 24 saves and a 2.53 ERA for the Tigers and Pirates last season.

"He’s very poised, great command of his fastball, just very efficient with his pitches," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said at the winter meetings. "A tremendous presence in the clubhouse."

Soria was part of some moribund teams in Kansas City and many thought the Royals should have traded him and built for the future. But Moore decided to keep Soria in part because he was so good at nailing down the few wins they could muster in the early years of their rebuild.

Now, he joins one of the best bullpens in baseball for the reigning World Series champions.

"Coming back from the Tommy John, I thought his stuff was a little bit softer in his first couple months back. But last year, I thought he was all the way back," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He was the Soria that we had, and it was very impressive to sit back and watch."

The Royals already exercised their $8 million option on closer Wade Davis, and setup man Kelvin Herrera and hard-throwing reliever Luke Hochevar will be back in the bullpen.

In fact, the only real departure from the group that helped finish off the New York Mets will be Ryan Madson, who parlayed a strong comeback season into a three-year, $22 million deal with Oakland.

The Royals have been fairly quiet this offseason, even though All-Star outfielder Alex Gordon declined his option for next season and chose free agency. Their only moves to solidify their roster have been signing Soria and Chris Young, who can pitch out of the bullpen or in the rotation.

"Chris Young is special," Moore said. "He’s an unbelievable competitor, and you can make a case that he was the MVP of our pitching staff."