Royals built contender for present and future
Club in position to continue recent run for quite some time
NEW YORK -- Whether the Royals win or lose this year's World Series, their fans know they have witnessed the rebirth of an organization -- a model one that should contend for championships for years to come, and reminiscent of the Royals' glory years.
It certainly has been a long time coming. General manager Dayton Moore's famed "process" began when he was hired in 2006, and to do it right required patience from all involved.
Royals fans have heard the story over and over: Moore rebuilt the organization virtually from the ground up, amping up the scouting department first, including pouring money into international scouting, and putting all focus on drafting and developing.
Sprinkle in a few key trades and financially smart free-agent signings over the next seven years and, voila, the Royals have produced three straight winning seasons, two straight American League pennants, and are two wins away from their first World Series title in 30 years.
And here's the kicker: Come next year, they will set their sights on the World Series again. Winning it all will be a realistic goal for quite some time.
"Our general manager didn't build a team to be a success for one or two years," Royals owner David Glass told MLB.com. "He built a team that he believed could sustain success for many years. That's the plan.
"These fans didn't have a very good team to cheer for, for a long time. They deserved better. They deserve a team that can be competitive on a long-term basis, not just one or two years. And that's what they have now."
Indeed, the core of this Royals team -- Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Salvador Perez, Alcides Escobar, Yordano Ventura, Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera, Danny Duffy, Edinson Volquez -- will all be back next season. And most of that core is also under club control through 2017 or beyond.
"The window isn't closing by any stretch," Moore said. "We weren't interested in just trying to be good for one or two years. We plan on being competitive enough to win championships as long as we can. The roster may fluctuate from year to year, and that is a natural process in baseball."
The roster likely will fluctuate over the offseason. Midseason pickups Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist will be free agents. The face of the Royals -- Alex Gordon -- has a player option for approximately $13.25 million, an option he almost surely will decline.
But it is difficult to picture a Royals team without Gordon, and there are whispers the Royals will do whatever they can to retain him. With revenue from record attendance this season plus added revenue from another long run through the postseason, the Royals may be able to afford Gordon.
Neither Glass nor Moore would comment publicly about pending free agents, both suggesting those discussions are best suited for when the World Series is over. But Glass has vowed to reinvest all profits, and those profits should be plentiful.
Two other solid contributors -- pitchers Chris Young and Ryan Madson -- also will be free agents, as will left-hander Franklin Morales.
Right fielder Alex Rios has a mutual option for 2016 after making $11 million this season, and that could come off the books. So could right-hander Jeremy Guthrie's $9 million contract, though he has a $3.2 million buyout.
In other words, there are a lot of moving parts to the payroll that could allow the Royals to not only retain Gordon, but perhaps another or two of their own free agents.
Whatever it takes to make another run at a World Series has been the motto the last two seasons. And while some national observers thought that by giving up several prospects to acquire Cueto and Zobrist they were going all-in for 2015, Glass said it actually means the Royals have made a pledge that they simply mean business for as long as they're able.
"What Dayton has done is put together a very good team through the young players that came up through the system," Glass said. "And then you add a piece or two that is missing, like we did in July. And we didn't sell our soul to get there. Our farm system is still very strong and will continue to be."
As Moore is fond of saying, "The farm system is there to develop talent for your Major League roster, or to use that talent to acquire needs you have for that Major League roster. That's it. There are still Drafts every summer. We can restock the system."