In a move to free up some payroll space for 2014, the Royals restructured right-hander Jeremy Guthrie's contract.
While news of the deal was first revealed on Monday by Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Royals general manager Dayton Moore told MLB.com that it was actually completed back in November.
"Jeremy was willing to work with us, and we restructured some things," Moore said. "When we did Jeremy's contract last year, it was backloaded to be light on the front end. It gives us flexibility for the 2013-14 offseason."
Guthrie, who will turn 35 just after Opening Day, was originally scheduled to earn $11 million this season and $9 million in 2015 under the terms of a three-year contract. Now he is slated to earn $8 million this season and $9 million in '15, with a $10 million mutual option added for '16.
The option has a $3.2 million buyout, so Guthrie is guaranteed the same amount -- actually $200,000 more -- and the Royals have cleared $3 million from the 2014 payroll.
"We're looking to maximize our payroll the best way we can," Moore said.
Acquired from the Rockies in 2012, Guthrie has gone 20-15 with a 3.78 ERA in 47 Royals starts. In 2013, he was 15-12 with a 4.04 ERA, second on the team to James Shields in starts (33 for Guthrie) and innings (211 2/3). Guthrie threw three complete games, including two shutouts.
How the 2014 savings will be spent remains to be seen, but it is worth noting that Kansas City still has seven players eligible for arbitration after catcher Brett Hayes signed last week. Pitchers Tim Collins, Aaron Crow, Luke Hochevar and Greg Holland, infielders Emilio Bonifacio and Eric Hosmer and outfielder Justin Maxwell can formally file for arbitration on Tuesday, and would exchange one-year salary proposals with the team if they remain unsigned on Friday. After that, the sides can continue negotiating until a scheduled hearing in February.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com.