KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The competition for a spot in the Royals' rotation just got a little tougher.
Kansas City announced the signing of veteran pitcher Bruce Chen to a $4.25 million, one-year deal on Saturday that includes a mutual option for the 2015 season, and manager Ned Yost said he expects to keep the left-hander as a starter rather than a reliever.
That would leave just one job available for a whole bunch of candidates.
"I don't know how it's all going to play out," Yost said at Royals FanFest. "I'm real open-minded, but you try to go into it and you think about all scenarios and all cases."
The Royals are solid at the front of the rotation with James Shields, Jason Vargas and Jeremy Guthrie, and Chen was dominant the latter part of last season after beginning in the bullpen.
That means young flame-throwers Yordano Ventura and Kyle Zimmer, talented but injury prone left-hander Danny Duffy, starters-turned-relievers Luke Hochevar and Wade Davis, and even veteran Brad Penny could be competing for a single rotation spot in spring training.
Royals pitchers and catchers report to Surprise, Ariz., on Feb. 14.
"If Danny Duffy doesn't make the rotation to begin with, what more does that do to the bullpen?" Yost said, offering one example of how things might play out. "That gives us another left-handed arm that we can get through the All-Star break and bam, like Bruce last year, here comes a fresh, healthy Danny Duffy if someone is slacking a little bit.