Royals GM Dayton Moore talks free agents, upcoming season

Posted at 9:25 PM, Feb 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-11 22:44:03-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Spring Training is right around the corner. Heck, it's even closer than that. Pitchers & catchers report to Royals camp in Surprise, Arizona on Tuesday.

And yet we still don't know the fate of free agents like first baseman Eric Hosmer and third baseman Mike Moustakas and a few dozen others around baseball.

General Manager Dayton Moore said he's never seen a baseball offseason quite like this one.

"The rosters are full of young players, and the free agent market after the 2018 season has a wealth of talent," said Moore, trying to explain the quiet market. "But I suspect that most of these players will get good contracts and get an opportunity to get paid well."

But, will the Royals do the paying? Depends on the free agent, of course.

The Royals have made no secret their desire to re-sign Hosmer after Moustakas made no secret his desire to look elsewhere.

"Eric Hosmer is an All-Star, a Gold Glove winner, Silver Slugger winner, World Champion, and we all recognize that," explained Moore. "Moose is a terrific player as well, and we're not going to close the door on that. We don't know what else can happen."

By sheer necessity, Hosmer is a target over Moustakas. After the Royals traded Brandon Moss in January, they are left without a first baseman. Meanwhile, young prospects like Cheslor Cuthbert and Hunter Dozier seemed poised to take up Moose's at-bats.

Oddly, though, the Royals opted to bring back shortstop Alcides Escobar, albeit to a one-year deal, even with the coveted Raul Mondesi in the organization. Moore said that decision had to do with health, largely.

"He's as talented as any player that we've had in this organization. He just hasn't been able to stay healthy," Moore said.

The Royals are in a curious spot. Several MLB teams are "going for it" this season -- spending money to make a run for the playoffs in 2018. Many others are selling and saving and waiting for the future. Moore said you can rebuild and win at the same time.

"A lot of people debate that, but we've tried to do that from Day 1 when we came here. We were competing for all the top free agents that would listen to us," said Moore.

This year's plan comes on the heels of two disappointing seasons for the Royals when they finished with 80 wins and 81 wins. Moore thinks the club very well could have ended up in the playoffs at the end of one or both of those seasons.

"If we were healthy like we were in '14 and '15 (World Series years) we would have made the playoffs," reflected Moore. "And last year when we made those deals in July, I really felt better about the team in '17 than I did about the team in '14."

But now it's 2018, Moore's 13th year as general manager in Kansas City. His old team -- the Atlanta Braves -- came calling this offseason as well. However, Moore stayed.

It was an easy decision.

"There's no other place that we'd rather be," Moore said. "This fan base, this city, this region has been very supportive of us. I'm proud of what we've been able to accomplish here."