DAVE SKRETTA, AP Sports Writer
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The most fun Brandon Moss has ever had playing baseball came in Kauffman Stadium.
He was playing for the Oakland Athletics in a wild-card game in September 2014, and everything was going along as if it was a dream. Moss had hit a pair of home runs, the A’s had taken a big lead and all signs were pointing toward Oakland making a run at the World Series.
Then, the Royals scored three times in the eighth inning and again in the ninth to knot the game, and Kansas City went on to win the memorable playoff matchup 9-8 in 12 innings.
“Most fun and heartbreaking game I’ve ever been part of,” Moss said.
It made sense those memories were still so fresh Wednesday, because Moss was back at Kauffman Stadium. But this time, he was slipping into a Royals jersey after signing a $12 million, two-year deal to provide the Kansas City lineup with a power bat at designated hitter and depth in the outfield.
Maybe the old cliché remains true: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
“I honestly felt going into that game, whoever won that game was going to the World Series,” Moss recalled of that playoff game, “and the reason was they were two different teams. We had incredible starting pitching and power — power galore. And these guys had an unbelievable bullpen — the game was shorted to six innings — and speed all over the place. And speed won the game that night.”
The Royals went on to reach the World Series, too, where they lost to San Francisco in an equally epic seven games. They proceeded to beat the New York Mets to win the championship in 2015.
But after a disappointing season a year ago, when the Royals’ offense struggled to score runs, it became crucial to add a power bat this offseason. The departure of Kendrys Morales to the Toronto Blue Jays in free agency opened the DH spot, and Moss was available after spending the past couple seasons with AL Central rival Cleveland and cross-state rival St. Louis.
His deal pays Moss $3.75 million this year and $7.25 million in 2018, and the mutual option is for $10 million with a $1 million buyout. He also can earn $500,000 annually in performance bonuses based on plate appearances: $50,000 each for 275 and each additional 25 through 500.
“I know the guys here,” Moss said during his introductory news conference, “not really on a true, personal level but playing against them, and I’ve always admired the way they play.”
General manager Dayton Moore warned against labeling Moss as a designated hitter, instead saying the Royals could rotate the spot to give several guys partial days off. He alluded to the fact that Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain and others are getting older, and several have had a history of injuries.
“I think it’s going to be very beneficial to give a lot of our position guys an opportunity to DH from time to time,” Moore said. “One of the things that attracted us so much to Brandon is he’s not a pure DH. He can play both wing outfield spots. He can play first base. That was important for us.”
Still, it stands to reason the 33-year-old Moss will get the majority of his starts at DH, even though he’s never been a full-time DH in stops that included Boston, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
“I DH’d in that wild-card game,” Moss pointed out, almost ruefully. “But I don’t mind it at all. If that’s what you’re doing, it’s a little different animal. You have to do different things, and your only opportunity to impact the game is on offense. But at the same time, I love to hit.”
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