Jason Grimsley re-signed with the Royals just hours before the deadline.
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals went to the wire in negotiations with Jason Grimsley on Sunday night, but ultimately they were able to retain the veteran who appeared in 76 games last season and helped Kansas City contend for an American League Central title.
Less than two hours before they would have had to cease negotiations with Grimsley, who was a free agent not offered arbitration, the Royals signed the reliever to a one-year deal.
"I just think it came down to Jason wanting to stay close to his family," Royals general manager Allard Baird said. "I have a lot of respect for Jason Grimsley."
Grimsley had expressed disappointment in recent days over an offer of $1 million, plus a possible $500,000 through performance bonuses. But the 36-year-old Grimsley had chosen to make his year-round home in Kansas City, citing the quality of life that his family can enjoy. When it came down to final decision time, Grimsley chose to turn his back on the open market.
Grimsley's signing is another big plus for the Kansas City bullpen. Veteran free agent reliever Curtis Leskanic signed with the Royals on Nov. 26.
Grimsley was the only remaining in-house free agent among a group of 10 to sign with Kansas City on Sunday. Outfielder Rondell White, catchers Brent Mayne, Mike DiFelice and Tom Prince, right-handers Jose Lima, Jamey Wright and Al Levine catcher and left-hander Graeme Lloyd will be moving on. Because the Royals didn't offer arbitration to those players by the Sunday night deadline, the Royals cannot negotiate with those players until May 1.
Outfielder Michael Tucker signed with San Francisco on Sunday, which brings the Royals another first-round draft pick. They now have three picks from the free agency activity. Kansas City got two picks when Raul Ibanez signed with Seattle.
"We feel very good about having those three additional draft picks," Baird said.
The Royals will move on to the next phase of their offseason by pursuing free agents outside the organization. Plenty of groundwork has already been established in that multipronged mission.
The Royals want to upgrade offensively at catcher. They appear poised to sign free agent Benito Santiago as their starter behind the plate. With Mayne no longer in the picture, the Royals will also be in the market for a backup catcher who can complement the strengths of the man who ends up with the No. 1 job.
The Royals need a starting corner outfielder with an impact bat and have been linked to veterans Raul Mondesi, Juan Gonzalez and Reggie Sanders. They also covet a utility outfielder/first baseman, and that player could be free agent Matt Stairs, who is coming off a solid season at Pittsburgh.
Baird said he would ideally like another free agent reliever to augment the bullpen depth, although there won't be as much financial freedom to get that player with Grimsley coming aboard.
The Royals went into the offseason with 15 free agents and retained five: Grimsley, Joe Randa, Leskanic, Brian Anderson and Kevin Appier.
"Overall, we're very pleased," Baird said. "We retained some very important pieces for this ballclub and now we have to continue the process of working to make the club better."
Robert Falkoff is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.