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Royals' farm system is priority at Meetings

Moore says club will keep payroll in mind for any potential deals
MLB.com @FlannyMLB

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The first full day of the Winter Meetings on Monday had Royals general manager Dayton Moore and his staff poring over the plan to rebuild and restock their once-potent farm system.

The rest of baseball knows this, too, which is why the Royals are getting calls on players such as left-handers Danny Duffy and Scott Alexander, and second baseman Whit Merrifield and reliever Kelvin Herrera.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The first full day of the Winter Meetings on Monday had Royals general manager Dayton Moore and his staff poring over the plan to rebuild and restock their once-potent farm system.

The rest of baseball knows this, too, which is why the Royals are getting calls on players such as left-handers Danny Duffy and Scott Alexander, and second baseman Whit Merrifield and reliever Kelvin Herrera.

Moore knows trading any of the club's popular players will be tough on the fan base. But he will listen to all offers.

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"Those are the guys you have to move to multiply the return for our farm system," Moore said. "Everything we do has to be centered around building our farm system. Any deal we do has to be predicated on will it save us money and get back players to build our farm system.

"You have to trade players with high value to get maximum return."

And payroll concerns are why the Royals likely will be only able to sign one of their numerous free agents, if that. Also, any other free agent the Royals might shop for will have to be a bargain, Moore said.

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First baseman Eric Hosmer is an exception.

"It's not like 2006 when we were in Nashville at our first Winter Meetings and we went out and signed Gil Meche," Moore said. "We're not doing something like that this time around. It's a different mindset. Hosmer's different because he's our player. We would look to do that if it works out."

And Moore noted that re-signing Hosmer would require shedding payroll elsewhere, perhaps in a severe fashion.

The Royals essentially are paying for a spending bill that didn't even produce a winning season the past two years. The Royals went 81-81 in 2016 and 80-82 in '17.

Moore estimates the club lost $65 million to $68 million the past two seasons.

"We're going to look to trim payroll -- not because [owner] David Glass is telling us to do that," Moore said. "But it's like buying a house or going to college -- you save your money so you can use those resources later, like in 2020 and 2021 for us.

"We got to a World Series with a $96 million payroll, won a championship with a $120 million payroll. Then, we won 81 [games] with a $140 million payroll, and won 80 with a $150 million payroll."

Moore and his lieutenants are formulating a Royals plan for the next decade, not just the next two or three years, and it will be painful at first, he said.

"It can't take away what we accomplished in going to back-to-back World Series," Moore said. "We've been through this before and we're better prepared intellectually and grit-wise to do it again.

"What we're going to do looking forward is to build our farm system and win for 10-15 years without going through the winning and losing cycles, like we just did. That's our mission."

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

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