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Saturday, February 28, 2009
Source: Royals, RHP Cruz agree to deal

By Buster Olney
ESPN.com

Free-agent pitcher Juan Cruz, caught in an unusual vise of rules and economy this offseason, has agreed to a two-year, $6 millon deal with the Kansas City Royals with a club option for a third, sources said Saturday.

Cruz
Cruz

Cruz will receive $2.25 million for 2009, $3.25 million for 2010, and a $4 million team option for 2011 in the deal, with a $500,000 buyout.

The right-handed Cruz could represent a major upgrade for the Royals' bullpen amid high hopes within the organization that Kansas City will take a long stride forward this year. The Royals traded middle relievers Leo Nunez and Ramon Ramirez after last season.

With the deal complete, the Diamondbacks get two 2009 compensatory draft picks -- a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds and the Royals' second-round pick at around No. 55 overall.

Pitching for Arizona in 2008, Cruz struck out 71 in 51 2/3 innings, with a 2.61 ERA, and seemed poised for a significant payday in free agency.

But Cruz was rated as a Type A free agent, meaning that any team signing him has to give up a high draft pick.

The compensation attached to Cruz greatly deflated interest in him, and as a result, the union and the commissioner's office discussed the possibility that Arizona could go through an unusual sign-and-trade process with Cruz -- which, in theory, would provide Cruz with more options, and give the Diamondbacks some compensation.

Buster Olney is a senior baseball writer for ESPN The Magazine.