LAS VEGAS -- When the Royals hired former Cardinals manager Mike Matheny as a special assistant to the general manager last month, GM Dayton Moore knew the rumors likely would start: That Matheny was being put in place to be manager Ned Yost's eventual successor.
After all, Yost, who is on a one-year deal through the 2019 season, became the Royals' manager in 2010 after also being a special assistant. But Moore said he sincerely isn't thinking that far down the line.
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"There's nothing [to the rumors] other than to just hire [Matheny] to do a role," Moore said. "... with hiring Mike, we knew that [being Yost's successor] would probably be something somebody would talk about. But it was just a matter of us wanting to hire a good baseball man. He obviously wanted to stay in the game, and he probably preferred to take some time away from managing and spend more quality time at home, and reconnect with his family.
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"He's going to join our leadership development department with Reggie Sanders and Mike Sweeney. He'll roam around the Minor League system and work with players.
"Our focus is simply on what we have to do for now and this year. It's safe to say that Ned is always going to have an opportunity to work in this organization at whatever level he's willing to do."
Yost has maintained for awhile now that he prefers to look at the managing job on a year-to-year basis. But he hinted at the end of the regular season that he could see himself even going beyond 2019, and he reiterated that again on Tuesday at the Winter Meetings.
"I can, yes," Yost said. "I definitely can see that scenario. We'll just see. These will be conversations between me and Dayton. As long as your players still respond to your message, you're in good shape. The minute they stop responding to the message, it's time to change the messenger."
Yost, who suffered a horrific fall from a tree stand last offseason, said he feels energized and ready to go to Spring Training this time.
"To do this job takes a lot of energy, a lot of commitment, a lot of passion," Yost said. "I still got all that. I'm still very enthused. I still have a lot of energy. I'm still excited to go to Spring Training and watch all these young guys develop.
"But it will get to that point sooner or later where it will be time to turn it over to someone else."
And who might that successor be when the time comes? Yost mentioned three members on his staff -- Pedro Grifol, Dale Sveum and Vance Wilson.
Grifol recently interviewed for the Orioles' managerial job.
"I think he'd make a phenomenal manager," Yost said.