LAS VEGAS -- After the Royals signed free agent Billy Hamilton on Tuesday, what's next for Kansas City?
Well, it likely won't be dealing Whit Merrifield, who led the Major Leagues in hits (192) and stolen bases (45) last season.
Merrifield's name has come up often in trade rumors over this past season. But Royals general manager Dayton Moore told MLB.com on Monday that calls from other teams about Merrifield have waned, which Moore takes credit for.
"We've pretty much made it clear we want Whit Merrifield to be part of our team," Moore said.
Moore made it known before last season's non-waiver Trade Deadline that he likely wasn't interested in dealing Merrifield, who is emerging as an offensive weapon as well as a clubhouse leader.
"It is our job to always evaluate the interest of our players," Moore said. "So that's what we constantly do. But we've made it very clear that while we will talk about anybody, we want Major League players back in return."
In other words, the Royals aren't necessarily interested in acquiring only prospects in any deal. As Moore noted, the Royals have the Draft and the International Draft to fill prospect needs.
The Royals still may be in the market for a bullpen arm, though Moore seemed skeptical that would happen at the Winter Meetings. Moore's budget for 2019 is near $90 million, so there isn't much wiggle room left.
"I think with where we are in the offseason and with what we have remaining with our payroll, I'd be surprised if any player jumps out and takes that kind of deal with us," Moore said. "Those types of players who take lesser deals usually do so closer to Spring Training."