Royals young ace Yordano Ventura gets $23 million, 5-year contract

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KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Yordano Ventura and the Kansas City Royals reached a $23 million, five-year deal Saturday, two days before the emerging ace is set to start the opener for the AL champions.

With a 100 mph fastball and one World Series win already to his credit, the 23-year-old Ventura committed to the Royals through the 2019 season.

Royals manager Ned Yost raved about Ventura.

"He's just an outstanding young pitcher," Yost said. "We've got a lot of high hopes for him. He's a special breed. He's got tremendous stuff. He's got tremendous composure. He's a tremendous competitor — all things that are hard to find in a young pitcher of his caliber."

Ventura and the Royals host the Chicago White Sox on opening day Monday.

The hard-throwing righty dazzled as a rookie last season, going 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA.

Veteran Kansas City starter Jason Vargas was impressed at Ventura's composure both on and off the mound last year.

"There (are) a lot of pressures that come along with being young and being expected to go out there and really perform that way and I think he handled it well," Vargas said.

Ventura pitched seven shutout innings of three-hit ball against San Francisco to win Game 6 of the World Series and force a Game 7, which the Giants took. In Game 2, Ventura pitched well into the sixth inning of a Kansas City victory.

Ventura was 1-0 with a 3.20 ERA in five postseason games, including four starts. He neatly bounced back from his first playoff appearance, when he relieved during the AL wild-card game against Oakland and gave up a three-run homer to the first batter he faced, Brandon Moss.

The contract includes team options for 2020 and 2021 at $12 million each, with a $1 million buyout both years.

Ventura will make $750,000 this year, $1 million in 2016, $3.25 million in 2017, $6.25 million in 2018 and $9.75 million in 2019. There's also a $1 million signing bonus.

Ventura made his major league debut in 2013 with three starts, not winning any of them. He more than fulfilled his potential last year.

The native of the Dominican Republic became the first Royals rookie to make 30 starts since Rich Gale in 1978, and posted the most wins by first-year Kansas City pitcher since Tom Gordon's 17 in 1988.

Ventura will be the second-youngest opening day starter in Royals' history. Steve Busby was a few months younger when he began the 1983 season.

Yost is eager to see what's in the future for Ventura.

"For me he's a complete package, a guy that I think is going to be very, very successful in major league baseball," Yost said. "And there's no telling what he's going to be able to achieve."

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