Kansas City Royals

Royals exercise buyout option, retain Soria

KANSAS CITY, Mo. —Not that there was ever much doubt, but the Royals made it official Monday that they will retain closer Joakim Soria through the 2012 season by choosing not to exercise a buyout option in his contract.

"This decision was more of a formality," general manager Dayton Moore agreed. "Joakim has been an exceptional closer for the last five years.

"For us to put together a strong pitching staff in 2012, it is important that Joakim remain a key component at the back end of the bullpen."

The Royals faced a Monday deadline — three days after the conclusion of the World Series — for notifying Soria if they intended to void his $6 million salary for next season by exercising a $750,000 buyout clause.

Such a move would have permitted the club to retain Soria by offering arbitration. Failing to offer arbitration after exercising the buyout would have permitted Soria to become a free agent.

Soria is coming off the most disappointing season of his five-year career. He compiled a career-worst 4.03 ERA in 60 games and saved just 28 games — his lowest total since becoming the club 's closer.

"It's been rough the whole season if you think about it," he said. "You just have to learn from it. This is the kind of thing that happens to everyone. I really believe in myself, and I'll g et over this bump (in the road). I'll be all right."

The Royals selected Soria from San Diego in December 2006 in the Rule 5 Draft. He was an All-Star in 2008 and 2010 and entered last season with a 2.01 career ERA and 122 saves in 132 opportu nities since becoming the club's full-time closer on July 31, 2007.

Only Yankees closer Mariano Rivera had a higher saves percentage — 92.9 percent to 92.4 percent — in that time frame. Soria blew seven saves this season in 35 opportunities, briefly lost h is job as closer and didn't pitch after Sept. 11 because of a sore hamstring.

Soria agreed to a six-year extension in May 2008 that contained three guaranteed seasons and three years in which the Royals held buyout options. If those buyouts aren't triggered, his salar y will jump to $8 million in 2013 and $8.75 million in 2014.

Royals' Gordon, Francoeur finalists for Gold Gloves —Outfielders Alex Gordon and Jeff Francoeur — but not shortstop Alcides Escobar — are among the American League finalists to receive Gold Gloves for defensive excellence when Rawlings announces this year's winners at 9 p.m. tonight on ESPN2.

The awards date to 1957 and are determined through a vote by managers and coaches in each league. The procedure changed this year to select a recipient for each outfield position instead of simply choosing three outfielders.

A list of three finalists for each position is also being announced for the first time.

Gordon is a finalist in left field with Brett Gardner of the Yankees and Sam Fuld of the Rays. Francoeur is a finalist in right field with Nick Markakis of the Orioles and Torii Hunter of the Angels.

Escobar is generally credited with solidifying the Royals' infield defense, but the shortstop finalists are Erick Aybar of the Angels, Asdrubal Cabrera of the Indians and J.J. Hardy of the Orioles.

The Royals have 18 Gold Glove winners in their history. Second baseman Frank White was an eight-time recipient from 1977-87, but the club has just two winners since 1989: outfielder Jermaine Dye in 2000 and second baseman Mark Grudzielanek in 2006.

Francoeur was a 2007 recipient in the National League while playing for Atlanta.

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