According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Royals and Jeremy Guthrie have agreed to a restructured contract. Originally, Guthrie was slated to earn $11 million in 2014 and $9 million in 2015 to close out his 3 year, $25 million deal. The restructured contract has Guthrie making $8 million in 2014, $9 million in 2015, and he now has a $10 million mutual option for 2016, with a $3.2 million buyout. Essentially, Guthrie is going to be earning the same amount of money, since it seems unlikely the Royals would pick up their end of the 2016 option, but the team now has a bit more payroll flexibility in the short term.
There are a couple of interesting aspects to this agreement. First, this is a very team-friendly deal now. Guthrie didn’t have much motivation on his end to agree to it, beyond earning a little bit more money on the back end of the deal, but taking a $3 million pay cut right now is pretty significant. I’ve made it known several times that I’m a big fan of Guthrie, particularly for his interaction on social media, and I think this agreement makes me like him even more. Taking less money in the here and now, even though it will eventually be added back on, is an unselfish move that could absolutely help the Royals, which leads me to the other thing I think this deal signifies:
The Royals may not be done making moves this offseason.
Sure, one could look at this deal as nothing more than David Glass shedding a few dollars off of his payroll, and that may turn out to be the case. Personally, I didn’t think the Royals would really add any other pieces to the team, despite Dayton Moore’s comments that he’ll continue to look for ways to improve the club. However, with this news coming down, my initial thought might be wrong.
The team now has an extra $3 million for 2014. They also have a pair of expensive relievers that could – and in my opinion, should – be traded, which would free up another $10 million if both Wade Davis and Luke Hochevar can be shipped off. Even if only one of them is traded, the Royals would then have around $8 million to play with. That’s no small amount. $8 million won’t get them all the way to paying for a number two starter, but it will get them closer. With a little bit more money from Glass, the team could find themselves in a spot where they could actually have a chance to sign the piece they need.
Of course, my assumption could be off. Maybe the team is simply cutting costs. Maybe they’re trying to pool some money to extend one of their younger players. Maybe they’re just really excited about potentially paying Guthrie $10 million in his age 37 season. But seeing the one major void on the roster, it would stand to reason that the Royals’ shopping may not be finished. Thanks to Guthrie, the front office now has a little bit more financial flexibility. We’ll see if Moore uses that extra money to top off his very solid offseason.
UPDATE, 3:08 pm: According to Jeff Flanagan, this deal was restructured in November, and that’s it not tied to any future deals. I’m not sure I completely buy this, considering there wouldn’t be any need to withhold the information for this long, but I suppose it does merit a mention in this space. I may still be jumping to an unsubstantiated conclusion, or Moore could be playing things close to the vest once again.