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Royals give contract extension to Soria

Royals give extention to closer Soria

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MIAMI -- Nice birthday present for Royals closer Joakim Soria.

Soria, who will turn 24 on Sunday, received a three-year contract extension through 2011 followed by three option years, the Royals announced Saturday night.

The deal could be worth as much as $32,350,000 and keep Soria with the Royals through the 2014 season, agent Oscar Suarez said. The club holds the option for the last three years of the six-year agreement.

"It's a big deal for me, for my career and my family -- I just try to look at it like that," Soria said. "This is security for me and my family today and the future, and I can just worry about baseball."

The deal calls for salaries of $1 million in 2009, $3 million in 2010 and $4 million in 2011, he said. The base salaries for the option years are $6 million in 2012, $8 million in 2013 and $8.75 million in 2014.

But those figures could increase if Soria becomes a starting pitcher, a possibility that has been discussed by the Royals. Included in the deal are escalators based on innings pitched as a starter or, if he remains a reliever, games finished.

"It's a good deal for Joakim, it's a good deal for the club," Suarez said. "It's a vesting option [for 2012] and if he does the things I think he can do, it'll vest automatically and the last two years are a straight club option."

According to Suarez, the maximum Soria could receive would be $32,350,000 as a starter or $30,750,000 as a closer. That, of course, is if Soria vests in 2012 and the club picks up the options.

"We're delighted to get a long-term deal with Joakim," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. "It was important to us to potentially have Joakim through 2014.

"He's a very talented young pitcher and we're very happy to have him in a Royals uniform for a long time."

Moore said that Soria aggressively pursued the deal which was hammered out in the last 2 1/2 weeks.

Soria surged to prominence last season as an unheralded Rule 5 Draft choice, plucked from the San Diego Padres' system. He appeared in relief 62 times in set-up and closing roles, posting a 2.48 ERA and 17 saves.

This season began in sensational fashion with 16 1/3 scoreless innings -- just two-thirds of an inning shy of Hipolito Pichardo's club record of 17 shutout innings to start a season.

The streak finally ended on Friday night when the Florida Marlins' Jeremy Hermida belted a two-run homer. Even so Soria recovered to notch his 11th save in 11 chances, tying Al Hrabosky's club record (1978) for consecutive saves at the start of a season.

As Soria agreed to the contract, he had held opponents to a .088 average (5-for-54). He had a 1.04 ERA with 20 strikeouts and just two walks in 17 1/3 innings.

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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