Thursday, August 03, 2006

Royals Sign Hochevar

The Royals announced this morning that they have signed their top pick Luke Hochevar. After hearing nothing about the negotiations for the couple of weeks, this comes as a very pleasant surprise. It appeared as though Hochevar wasn't going to sign anytime soon, if at all. But, the Royals now have Hochevar signed to a 4-year major league contract. That means Hochevar will have to be on the 40-man roster. He will be optioned to the minors, most likely to Burlington and then move up to High Desert. Considering he pitched well against a High A/AA level caliber independent league, he should move pretty quickly. If all goes well, perhaps he'll get a chance to pitch in the Arizona Fall League. After sitting out most of two seasons, he'll need all the innings he can get.

Even though I don't really like giving an amateur player a major-league contract, I'm pretty pleased with the deal. The Royals certainly took a gamble by selecting a Boras client who had already held out for one season. But, the Royals were able to sign one of the top two pitching talents available and a potential ace. Hochevar strengthens the farm system considerably, which is lightyears ahead of where it was a few months ago.

The mechanics of Hochevar's contract don't have any implications on service time as far as I'm aware. As long as he is in the minors, he won't accrue service time, which determines when he becomes a free agent. I believe the 4-year contract simply means he gets paid whatever they agreed to over the next 4 years and he is still under the Royals control until he has 6 years of major league service time. He has three option years, so Hochevar has until the end of 2008 to reach the majors.

This is great news for Royals fans, as the Royals added a potentially great arm to their farm system who should be ready on the same timetable as the organization's premier offensive talent. Also, this shows that the Royals aren't afraid to deal with Scott Boras. Finally, the past two drafts have shown that the Royals will go after the best player available in the draft and aren't afraid to spend the $4-5 million required to sign the best player. It appears the Royals are finally headed in the right direction. As promised, I will have the updated prospect list shortly with our newest addition, Luke Hochevar.


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