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Royals lay ground work at Winter Meetings

@FlannyMLB
December 16, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- Planting seeds. That was the crux of the Royals' work here at the Winter Meetings this week at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. The Royals made only one transaction -- they took right-hander Stephen Woods Jr. with the No. 4 pick in the Rule 5 Draft -- but

SAN DIEGO -- Planting seeds.

That was the crux of the Royals' work here at the Winter Meetings this week at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. The Royals made only one transaction -- they took right-hander Stephen Woods Jr. with the No. 4 pick in the Rule 5 Draft -- but they worked the phones, setting up future deals to find bullpen help, perhaps another starting pitcher and possibly a versatile infielder who can play third base.

The Royals added right-hander Trevor Rosenthal on a Minor League deal on Saturday, hoping he can help the bullpen.

BIGGEST REMAINING NEEDS

1. Bullpen help: Woods, taken from Tampa Bay's organization, could provide another piece to the bullpen. But Kansas City desperately needs to find more cost-efficient help for a bullpen that was the second worst (5.07 ERA) in the American League in 2019. That help likely will come in late January and early February. The closer to Spring Training, the more antsy free agents might get, driving down their asking prices enough to meet the Royals' limited budget. Kansas City is trying to find bullpen arms on deals that won't exceed $3 million-$4 million.

2. Starting pitching: One solution to the Royals' bullpen woes that general manager Dayton Moore mentioned at the Winter Meetings was finding one or two value-based starters on the free-agent market, which would allow them to move right-handers Glenn Sparkman and Jorge López -- who made 41 starts between them -- to the bullpen. Moore said the Royals haven't given up on Sparkman or Lopez as starters, but that having them in the bullpen for now could solve some issues.

3. Infielder: Moore suggested that Kansas City still might seek a versatile infielder to cover itself in case shortstop Adalberto Mondesi (left shoulder surgery) isn't ready by Opening Day. Moore also talked about the possibility of finding a cost-efficient third baseman as the club explores the option of having third baseman Hunter Dozier play a more versatile role -- Dozier can play right field and first base as well.

RULE 5 DRAFT

The Royals are high on Woods, whom they scouted out of high school and when he was at the University of Albany. Woods' fastball is around 90-95 mph, but he has the type of curveball that could be a swing-and-miss pitch -- something Kansas City covets for its bullpen. He had a 1.88 ERA at Class A Advanced Charlotte in 2019.

GM'S BOTTOM LINE

"We're just not having a ton of discussions with other teams right now. We're not, because we're holding onto our guys." -- Moore, on rumors about trade talks involving Whit Merrifield, Danny Duffy and Jorge Soler

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