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Mike Moustakas returning to Royals - and taking pay cut after record-setting season

Free-agent third baseman fails to land multiyear deal, agrees to one-year pact with former team.

USA TODAY Sports MLB insider Bob Nightengale breaks down all the hot topics coming out of spring training. USA TODAY Sports

Mike Moustakas set a Royals franchise record in 2018 with 38 home runs.(Photo: Steven Branscombe, USA TODAY Spor)

Free agent third baseman Mike Moustakas, who turned down a $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Kansas City Royals, has agreed to a one-year contract with his former team that guarantees him $6.5 million.

A person with direct knowledge of the agreement confirmed that Moustakas is in agreement with the Royals on a deal that will pay him $5.5 million in base salary this season with an option for 2019 with a guaranteed $1 million buyout. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because the deal was not yet finalized. 


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Moustakas, 29, becomes the latest player to take a step back rather than cash in as he hits free agency this winter. He made $8.7 million in his final year of arbitration eligibility, a year in which he set a franchise record with 38 home runs and also established career highs in RBI (85) and runs scored (75). 

A first-round draft pick by the Royals in 2007, Moustakas was stymied in his attempt to land a lucrative multiyear deal by this offseason's frigid free-agent market.

He was one of three high-profile Royals to become free agents this offseason, along with first baseman Eric Hosmer and center fielder Lorenzo Cain.

However, Moustakas had far less success attracting offers on the open market. Hosmer, 28, signed an eight-year, $144 million contract with the San Diego Padres and Cain, 31, got a five-year, $80 million deal from the Milwaukee Brewers.  

Contributing: Bob Nightengale

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