Source: Ankiel, Royals agree to deal

Updated: January 22, 2010, 12:00 PM ET
ESPN.com

Free agent outfielder Rick Ankiel has reached agreement with the Kansas City Royals on a one-year contract worth $2.75 million with a $500,000 buyout, a source told ESPN The Magazine's Tim Kurkjian on Friday.

Ankiel
Ankiel

The 30-year-old Ankiel will undergo a physical Monday, the source said.

Ankiel is expected to play center field for Kansas City, David DeJesus is expected to play right and recently signed Scott Podsednik left, the source said, while Jose Guillen is expected to get most of his at-bats as a DH.

Ankiel has started 150 games in center field, 45 in right and 35 in left in the big leagues.

The Royals' plan this offseason has included getting more athletic, and getting better defensively. They have done that with Ankiel, and the new outfield alignment, as well as signing Jason Kendall as their everyday catcher.

The left-handed-hitting Ankiel also brings some home run power to a Royals team that ranked 12th in the American League with a .405 slugging percentage last season. The Royals were 13th among AL clubs with 144 home runs, and Miguel Olivo, Mike Jacobs and Mark Teahen -- who accounted for 54 of those homers -- are no longer with the team.

Ankiel, who spent four seasons as a pitcher in St. Louis before control problems prompted him to switch to the outfield, hit 25 homers and drove in 71 runs for the Cardinals in 2008. But he ran into a wall at Busch Stadium last May, injuring his shoulder, and finished the season with a .231 average, 11 homers and 38 RBIs in 122 games.

In December, several baseball sources said that Ankiel was seeking a three-year deal, but he had to settle for a shorter contract in a crowded outfield market.

The Royals had also been talking to Xavier Nady, Marcus Thames and Jonny Gomes as possible power-hitting options.

Josh Fields, acquired in a November trade with the White Sox, is expected to spend time at third base, first base, left field and DH for manager Trey Hillman.

Tim Kurkjian is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Information from ESPN Insider Jerry Crasnick was included in this report.