AL Rookie of Year agrees to pact that runs through '09
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
Angel Berroa legs out a single during Friday night's game against the Red Sox. (Charles Krupa/AP)
BOSTON -- Royals shortstop Angel Berroa, the 2003 American League Rookie of the Year, signed on Friday a four-year contract extension with a one-year club option, a deal that could be worth a total of $16 million.
The package runs through 2009, when the club can exercise an $5.5 million option to retain Berroa. The deal guarantees Berroa $500,000 in 2005, $2 million in 2006, $3.25 million in 2007 and $4.75 million in 2008. The club can buy out the 2009 option for $500,000.
The contract also includes performance bonuses based on plate appearances: $75,000 for 600 and $75,000 for 650 in 2006 and 2007. The figure goes up to $100,000 in 2008.
There are other bonuses if Berroa wins certain awards, including $100,000 if he is Most Valuable Player and $100,000 if he is World Series MVP. There are $50,000 bonuses for making the All-Star, Gold Glove or Silver Slugger teams.
Angel Berroa / SS
Weight: 175 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
"This is my new family," Berroa said. "They gave me the opportunity to play in the big leagues. I want to stay for a few years. Now I can be comfortable because I know the city."
Berroa is making $372,500 this season.
"It's very important for the organization to sign him through his arbitration years and into his first free-agent year with a club option," Royals general manager Allard Baird said.
Baird said the deal could be a money-saver for the club because of the uncertainty of arbitration hearings and free agency, but that it also gives the player the guarantee of security for that period.
"It's security for me and my family and my future," Berroa said. "Now I can just play baseball, put up some numbers and help my team win some games."
The signing gives the Royals stability at shortstop, a position that has turned over frequently since Fred Patek's reign from 1971-79. The only two shortstops who have been in the Opening Day lineup as many as four times since were U.L. Washington (1980-83) and Kurt Stillwell (1988-91).
"He's a premium position guy and that factors in large," Baird said. "We believe that he's going to profile out and become an impact player at that position and that's a big plus."
It was during a plane trip from Phoenix to Houston for the final two exhibition games of Spring Training when Baird and Berroa discussed the contract extension.
"I told him we wanted to talk about a long-term deal, something that will be fair to both sides," Baird said. "But I said, 'I don't want to disrupt your season or the ballclub's.'"
Baird does not like to hold contract negotiations during a season and told Berroa he'd like to get the matter settled within a week. If no agreement could be reached, they'd hold off until after the season.
"He said, 'Great,'" Baird recalled.
However, when Berroa became ill and had migraine headaches April 16 in Minnesota, he went on the disabled list. Because of concern for Berroa's health, Baird and agent Adam Katz decided to put the contract talks on the back burner.
Once Berroa got well, the contract talks went rather quickly with assistant general manager Muzzy Jackson heading the negotiations with Katz.
"The key is Angel wanted to do it," Jackson said. "It was a mutual thing."
Berroa, 26, won the rookie award after batting .287 with 17 home runs and 73 RBIs while fielding his position solidly and often spectacularly. He made 24 errors but just five in his last 95 games.
"This is my new family. They gave me the opportunity to play in the big leagues. I want to stay for a few years. Now I can be comfortable because I know the city."
-- Angel Berroa
He also stole 21 bases, becoming just the seventh Major League rookie to hit at least .280 with 17 homers and 21 steals. The previous player to attain those figures was his teammate, center fielder Carlos Beltran, in 1999 when he was AL Rookie of the Year.
Berroa won last year's BBWAA vote by the closest margin since 1979, edging New York Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui, 88-84.
"If you grade him out right now, he has the best shortstop arm in the American League and the best range in the league -- two very important qualities at his position," Baird said.
This year Berroa is off to a slow start, batting .212 with one homer and four RBIs at the time of his signing. He has two errors and has played in just 14 of the first 26 games because of a 15-day stay on the disabled list after becoming ill. There's been no recurrence of the migraine headaches, however.
He was obtained from the Oakland A's on Jan. 8, 2001, when Baird insisted on his inclusion in a three-club exchange. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays traded closer Roberto Hernandez to the A's, who then sent Hernandez, catcher A.J. Hinch and Berroa to the Royals for outfielder Johnny Damon and infielder Mark Ellis.
"When they traded me to Kansas City, I thought I'd have the opportunity to get to the Major Leagues quicker and that's what happened," Berroa said. "The A's traded me and I was in the Major Leagues the same year."
Only Berroa remains with the Royals from that deal and now he appears to be a long-termer at shortstop.
"It's satisfying for me but, more important, it's satisfying for our fans to know the player will be here beyond his arbitration years," Baird said.
Berroa was asked if he could become as good as Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez.
"Nobody knows. ... I'm working hard. I just want to be Angel Berroa but I want to be the best," he said.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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