Royals sign RHP Meche

Updated: December 7, 2006, 1:23 PM ET

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida -- The low-budget Kansas City Royals made a big splash in the free agent pool Thursday, signing righthander Gil Meche to a five-year contract.

The deal will pay Meche, formerly of the Seattle Mariners, roughly $45 million.

Meche is the classic example of a free agent pitcher who has not accomplished a great deal in the majors but still was likely to receive a sizeable payday from a team in need of starting pitching.

The Royals certainly had a desperate need for rotation help. Only lefthander Mark Redman, who is a free agent, posted double-digit wins (11) last season and no pitcher on the club who started more than two games had an ERA under 5.00.

"We need starting pitching, we need young starting pitching," Kansas City manager Buddy Bell said Wednesday, after his team traded reliever Ambiorix Burgos to the New York Mets for starter Brian Bannister.

The 28-year-old Meche is 55-44 with a 4.65 ERA in six seasons with the Mariners, winning more than 11 games or posting an ERA below 4.40 only once. He was 11-8 with a 4.48 ERA in 32 starts this past season, striking out a career-high 156 in 186 2/3 innings.

"We were proud to be a part of the process and delighted that Gil Meche made the decision to join the Royals," general manager Dayton Moore said. "He is an impact pitching talent who fits in with our plan for long term success. At 28, he is entering the prime of his career."

A first-round pick in 1996, Meche enjoyed his best year in 2003, when he went 15-13 with a 4.59 ERA. He historically is at his best in September, going 10-4 with a 4.39 ERA, including a 2-0 mark in 2006.

Meche's signing comes as another blow to the Toronto Blue Jays, who had talks with Meche and were hoping to bring him on board. The Blue Jays also lost out on re-signing lefthander Ted Lilly, who inked a deal with the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday.

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index