By DAVE SKRETTA
(KANSAS CITY, Mo., AP) — The Royals agreed to one-year deals Friday with first baseman Eric Hosmer, right-hander Luke Hochevar and utilityman Emilio Bonifacio to avoid going to arbitration.
Hosmer, who made just $528,250 last season, received the biggest bump to $3.6 million with a $50,000 bonus if he makes his first All-Star team. Hochevar will make $5.21 million while being eligible for up to $400,000 in incentives, and Bonificio will make $3.5 million.
The Royals agreed with left-handed reliever Tim Collins on a one-year deal worth $1,362,500 on Thursday. That leaves only All-Star closer Greg Holland, fellow relief pitcher Aaron Crow and outfielder Justin Maxwell as their unsigned arbitration-eligible players.
The deadline for teams and players to exchange contract figures was Friday. Arbitration hearings begin in February.
Hosmer, who endured an awful sophomore slump in 2012, is coming off a bounce-back year in which he hit .320 with 17 homers and 79 RBIs while playing in 159 games. He also won his first Gold Glove while helping Kansas City to an 86-76 finish, its best since the 1989 season.
The Royals control Hosmer for three more seasons through arbitration, but most people believe they will try to sign him to a long-term deal before he reaches free agency. General manager Dayton Moore has routinely declined to comment on the status of such negotiations.
Hochevar, who made $4.56 million, is due to become a free agent after this season. The first overall pick in the 2006 draft, Hochevar struggled as a starter but flourished in the bullpen last season, going 5-2 with a 1.92 ERA in 58 games.
Bonifacio, who made $2.6 million last season, arrived in a midseason trade from Toronto. While he hit just .243 for the year, Bonifacio hit .285 with the Royals, and his ability to play second, third and shortstop along with the outfield made him a valuable utility player.
Bonifacio was in line to become the starting second baseman until the Royals signed veteran Omar Infante to $30.25 million, four-year contract in December.
“I like our team,” Moore said in a recent interview. “I feel very good about the way we finished the second half last season, and the chemistry in the clubhouse is good.”
The Royals have been aggressive this offseason, signing left-hander Jason Vargas to a $32 million, four-year deal to make up for the likely loss of right-hander Ervin Santana in free agency, and trading reliever Will Smith to the Brewers for outfielder Norichika Aoki.
Those moves, along with raises given to arbitration-eligible players, will likely push the Royals payroll past $90 million for the first time. That’s led to speculation that Moore would seek to cut payroll through a trade — designated hitter Billy Butler, who is owed $8.5 million, has been bandied about in what Moore downplayed as “hot stove rhetoric.”
“We’re not under any directive to cut,” Moore said, “but at the same time you want to put together a team where players can be utilized well. My main focus is put the best team we can on the field, work to gel the current pool of players in a way that creates synergy and togetherness and a winning team, and we certainly have financial people who remind me of where we are.
“But right now, and it’s been from Day One, our focus has always been putting the best team on the field. We’ve always tried to take advantage of opportunities that exist for us to do that.”
NOTES: Holland requested $5.2 million and was offered $4.1 million. Crow asked for $1.7 million and was offered $1.28 million; Maxwell submitted $1.7 million and Kansas City offered $1,075,000.