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Moore believes Royals 'will be active' in Rule 5

Kansas City meets one need with Owings signing, ready to explore draft with No. 2 pick
MLB.com @FlannyMLB

KANSAS CITY -- Perhaps the top offseason goal for the Royals heading into the Winter Meetings starting Monday in Las Vegas already has been achieved.

The Royals were looking for a veteran backup middle-infielder to support shortstop Adalberto Mondesi and second baseman Whit Merrifield, and general manager Dayton Moore filled that hole by signing 27-year-old Chris Owings, who had been non-tendered by Arizona.

KANSAS CITY -- Perhaps the top offseason goal for the Royals heading into the Winter Meetings starting Monday in Las Vegas already has been achieved.

The Royals were looking for a veteran backup middle-infielder to support shortstop Adalberto Mondesi and second baseman Whit Merrifield, and general manager Dayton Moore filled that hole by signing 27-year-old Chris Owings, who had been non-tendered by Arizona.

Video: Royals add versatile Chris Owings with one-year deal

Moore told MLB.com this week that the Owings signing should fulfill that positional need heading into 2019.

"Chris is a very versatile player who started [51] games at shortstop in 2017," Moore said. "He can play third and second and outfield. He will be a valuable addition."

Moore said he would not comment on the Royals' potential interest in other free agents, including speedy outfielder Billy Hamilton, who was non-tendered by the Reds. Hamilton, a dynamic defender, could be a fit for the Royals at the right price (he made $4.6 million last season).

Video: Reds non-tender speedster outfielder Billy Hamilton

"We're not going to necessarily back off [from more acquisitions]," Moore said. "We'll look at players who make economic sense for us. But we're very happy with our depth right now."

While the Royals' bullpen was a major issue in 2018, Moore said the solutions moving forward likely will be internal.

"We have depth on our 40-man roster in terms of potential bullpen arms," Moore said. "We have several rotation candidates, and I would suspect those who don't make the rotation will be bullpen candidates.

"We'll look at the free-agent market and at potential trades, but if we identify someone, it will have to be an upgrade from what we have. Any tie will go to one of our existing players on the roster."

Moore also said the Royals likely will be active participants in the Rule 5 Draft, as they were last year when they selected right-handers Brad Keller and Burch Smith.

Smith struggled in 2018 (6.92 ERA in 38 games) and opted for free agency recently rather than being outrighted to Triple-A. Keller, though, emerged as the Royals' best starter.

"Our scouting staff does a terrific job identifying potential fits," Moore said. "The acquisition cost for a Rule 5 player is low. So yes, I believe we will be active in the Rule 5 Draft with the No. 2 pick."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Chris Owings