Two days before his first opening day start, Royals right-hander Yordano Ventura agreed to a five-year, $23 million agreement to stay with Kansas City through 2021, according to several media reports.
The deal with Ventura, 24, includes two team options, the Kansas City Star reported. The deal was being finalized Saturday and is expected to be announced today.
General manager Dayton Moore declined to comment.
Ventura, who signed for $28,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2008, posted a 3.20 ERA in 183 innings with 159 strikeouts as a rookie, helping the Royals reach the World Series. He logged 251/3 innings in the playoffs with an identical ERA, including seven scoreless innings in Game 6 of the World Series.
Ventura averaged 97 mph on his fastball in 2014, hardest of any starting pitcher in baseball, and impressed his team with his maturity, competitiveness and zeal for improvement.
"He has a great feel for pitching," pitching coach and former USF standout Dave Eiland told the Star. "Which a lot of kids at that age, with that type of arm, don't."
50,231 in Montreal
MONTREAL — A crowd of 50,231 at Olympic Stadium saw the Blue Jays beat the Reds 9-1. The two games drew a total of 96,545 to a city that wants big-league ball back after the Expos left for Washington following the 2004 season. Toronto has drawn at least 46,000 in all four of its spring games in Montreal. As a measuring stick, the Rays haven't topped 34,000 in their past four postseason home games.
INDIANS, ACE NEAR DEAL: Cleveland and Cy Young Award-winning right-hander Corey Kluber are nearing an agreement on a long-term contract, and the deal could be announced before Monday's season opener, according to several media reports. The deal will be for five years with two club options, Yahoo Sports reported. Kluber, who turns 29 on Friday, had a breakout season in 2014, posting a 2.44 ERA and striking out 269 in 2352/3 innings.
SLOWER TANAKA: Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, scheduled to pitch the opener Monday against the Jays, acknowledged that he's unlikely to regain his fastball velocity. "I'm going to try and establish a certain pitching style this year, so it is not the wisest to ask for velocity from me this year," Tanaka, who is pitching with a small tear in the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow, said through his translator. The second-year starter has been peaking at 92 this spring after topping out above 95 last season. Also, the Yankees designated catcher Austin Romine for assignment, meaning John Ryan Murphy will serve as Brian McCann's backup.
ANGELS: Johnny Giavotella was named the starting second baseman.
GIANTS: Outfielder Hunter Pence, out with a nondisplaced fracture in his left forearm, had his cast removed but is still about 10-14 days away from swinging a bat. … Outfielder and first baseman Travis Ishikawa will begin the season on the disabled list with a back injury.
METS: The team will start the season with an eight-man bullpen, leaving four position players on the bench.
NATIONALS: Outfielder Jayson Werth continues to make solid progress from January surgery to repair the AC joint in his right shoulder and could rejoin the team within a week, csnwashington.com reported.
PIRATES: Right-hander Charlie Morton will open the regular season on the 15-day disabled list because of problems in his surgically repaired left hip.