The Royals will bring back veteran left hander Bruce Chen for the 2014 season, as Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal first reported. MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo later confirmed the contract was a one-year deal with a mutual option for 2015, and CBS Sports' Jon Heyman rounded out the details -- $3.25 million in 2014 plus a $1 million buyout ($.25 million total) and a $5.5 million mutual option for 2015 with $1.25 million in performance-based bonuses.
Chen has been with Kansas City for the last five years, throwing 670⅓ innings with a 4.32 ERA as a starter and reliever for the Royals.
He's pitched in the majors over parts of 15 seasons for 10 different big league clubs, including one that no longer exists -- the Montreal Expos. The 36-year-old lefty was signed by the Atlanta Braves as amateur free agent in 1993.
His 2013 campaign in Kansas City was arguably the best of his career. He started 15 games and made 34 appearances overall, posting a 3.27 ERA in 121 innings. Also on his résumé, he's the only player in major league history to have a Will Ferrell-generated catchphrase shouted at him from the stands.
The Royals could choose to use Chen in a similar role next season, having him fill in as a starter at times, and serve as a long man out of the bullpen. Their rotation is set to feature some question marks behind James Shields. They have Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Vargas set round out the top three spots, but young arms like Yordano Vetnura and Danny Duffy will compete with sometimes-reliever Wade Davis for the remaining starts. Chen's presence could be a sign that Ventura will begin the season in Triple-A Omaha.
The club has been rumored to maintain an interest in bringing back free agent righty Ervin Santana, but with the addition of Chen, they might not have the roster space, or the payroll flexibility, to bring him back.