Royals extend Yost's contract through 2016
Manager led club to first postseason appearance in 29 years, AL title
On the day that Ned Yost's new one-year extension as manager of the Kansas City Royals became official, the skipper was right where he wanted to be.
Literally. Yost spoke to media members on a conference call while hunting near his Georgia home.
"I'm sitting in a deer stand waiting for some action," Yost said. "But it's a little early right now."
It sounds like a leisurely way for one of baseball's newest celebrities to spend a winter day, but Yost and the Royals are doing anything but relaxing these days. After losing to the San Francisco Giants in the seventh game of the World Series in October, with the tying run only 90 feet away as Giants ace Madison Bumgarner got Royals catcher Salvador Perez to pop up to third base for the final out, the Royals have more work to do.
And ensuring that Yost will be around to see it through became one of the items Royals general manager Dayton Moore had to cross off his offseason to-do list.
So Yost, who was already under contract for the upcoming 2015 season, is now aboard through 2016, and he doesn't have a particular end date in sight moving forward.
"Just as long as we're still having success," Yost said when asked how much longer he'd like to manage. "We've got a great group of people that I really enjoy working with, from the players to the front office. So as long as I'm enjoying it and able to give 100 percent. I've always gone at everything in baseball full steam and given it everything I have. As long as I'm able to do that and we're having success as an organization, that's going to make it real easy."
The Royals have had rare, historic success under Yost, and it all came to be in the magical 2014 season. Yost led the team to its first playoff appearance in 29 years and became the first skipper in Major League history to win his first eight postseason games.
Yost, who took over the Royals in May 2010, is already the longest-tenured manager in team history and is third on the Royals' all-time win list (373), trailing only Dick Howser (404) and Whitey Herzog (410).
That's why Moore said the new deal was a no-brainer.
"We felt it was important to move forward and get this done before we get to Spring Training," Moore said. "As we all know, baseball is a very tough business, and we're always striving for organizational harmony, and when we have our … manager signed for the next two years, it helps create that organizational harmony.
"Ned's a done a terrific job. He came to our organization at a point in time when I think we needed to be reenergized, and Ned brought a lot of hope and optimism. Ned's one of the best leaders I've ever worked with. … Those are the character traits we believe are very important for a Major League manager.
"I can't say enough about how he managed the team and related to our fan base … throughout the playoffs. It was done really well, and we all saw the real Ned during that time."
Yost said he appreciates what Moore has done in the offseason, filling roster holes by re-signing relievers Jason Frasor and Luke Hochevar, picking up designated hitter Kendrys Morales and outfielder Alex Rios plus starters Edinson Volquez and Kris Medlen.
That, along with the young team's oh-so-close flirtation with baseball immortality last year, has the skipper fired up to arrive in Surprise, Ariz., next month.
"We've got a real good core group of players," Yost said. "We did take a big step forward last year as an organization and took our game to the next level. The players have now experienced what that feels like and understand what it takes to perform at a high level in front of an energy-packed crowd. …
"We came as close as you could possibly come but we didn't get it done. When you don't win it, it leaves a taste in your mouth. … I think everybody in that locker room will tell you that they want to finish this thing off and win a world championship."
They'll have Yost for at least two more years to try to make that happen.