The Associated Press reports that Kansas City has agreed on a new contract with starting pitcher Luke Hochevar that will pay him $1.76 million this year. The contract also includes a clause that should Hochevar be sent to the minors, he would only receive $772,500.
Hochevar however is out of options and would need to be designated for assignment to be removed from the 40-man roster and then pass through waivers before he could be assigned to AAA Omaha. Even with Hochevar's middling major league results, the chance that he would go unclaimed is infinitesimally small.
The contract actually represents a fairly steep pay cut for Hochevar. In 2009, he made $1.325 million in the final season of a four-year $5.3 million major league contract that he signed in 2006 after the Royals made him the first overall pick in the rule 4 player draft. Included in that contract was a $3.5 million signing bonus. Major League Baseball limits all paycuts to a maximum 20% from one year to the next. Hochevar's 2009 compensation for the purposes of his 2010 contract renewal was his $1.325 million 2009 salary plus $875,000, which was determined by pro-rating his signing bonus for the length of the contract. The $1.76 million is exactly a 20% cut from the combined $2.2 million salary plus bonus from last season.
Hochevar has failed to live up to the hype of his first overall selection in the draft. He's spent parts of three seasons with the Royals, and posted his worst numbers in 2009. A 7-13 record and an ERA of 6.55 accompanied mediocre rate stats. Hochevar was also a first round draft choice of the LA Dodgers in 2005, but he held out at the direction of his adviser, Scott Boras, and pitched in for Fort Worth of the independent American Association.
Hochevar may be eligible for salary arbitration following the 2010 season at which time he will have accumulated two and a half years of major league service time if he spends the entire season in Kansas City.
Joe Tetreault is a member of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey.
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