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Royals still targeting impact bat at Meetings

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- So here we are, virtually at the gate of Disney World. So what'll it be? Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Mad Tea Party?

What wild ride awaits baseball's moguls, movers and shakers and media at the annual Winter Meetings at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort?

It won't come for the Royals or the other 29 Major League clubs in the entertainment areas of the vast park initiated by Disney, the fabulous animator who, by the way, got his start in Kansas City. No, it's more likely to come in the lobby, suites or restaurants -- there will be a lot of baseball talk in football legend Don Shula's Steak House -- of the hotel.

The Royals' contingent checked in on Sunday to regenerate the team's search for an impact bat, and perhaps, another starting pitcher for the 2014 season.

Trades and more free-agent signings are the kind of thrills and amusement the baseball folks enjoy every year at their pre-Christmas party. The trees, ornaments and music reflect the season throughout the hotel.

The Royals' holiday mood was dampened late Friday night when word came that free-agent outfielder Carlos Beltran had slipped away and agreed to a three-year deal with the Yankees.

However, they were heartened the previous day by acquiring right fielder and leadoff batter Norichika Aoki from the Brewers (in a trade for left-hander Will Smith ) and by the Nov. 21 signing of free-agent left-handed pitcher Jason Vargas to a four-year contract.

What the Royals and the other clubs do will be covered in depth by with beat reporters and columnists on the prowl from the official opening of the meetings on Monday through the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday morning.

All the managers attending have a general session with reporters, and manager Ned Yost's turn comes at 2:30 p.m. CT on Monday. We'll find out how he figures that Vargas and Aoki will improve the Royals' chances in 2014.

Then Yost will continue his meetings with general manager Dayton Moore and the rest of the front-office staff to see what else they can do. So hop aboard; we'll see what kind of a ride the Royals take us on.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for

Kansas City Royals