Inbox: Could KC get Hoz with Moreland to Sox?

Royals beat reporter Jeffrey Flanagan answers fans' questions

December 20th, 2017

KANSAS CITY -- Royals general manager Dayton Moore spent the majority of his time at the Winter Meetings laying the groundwork for potential trades that will assist a major rebuild.

Moore has two goals this offseason: Trade his desired assets to help restock the farm system, and trim payroll.

Oh, and the possibility of re-signing free agent may have gotten a boost when the Red Sox, believed to be one of the suitors for Hosmer, signed first baseman Mitch Moreland instead.

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With all that in mind, let's get on with the final Royals Inbox of 2017:

Better. Much better. But it's still very iffy. Moore made it clear at the Winter Meetings that Kansas City has to keep payroll in the $115-120 million range or lower (it was about $150 million in 2017). The payroll right now is in the $115 million range. So to sign Hosmer, who could get $15-20 million a season, Moore will have to get creative to make room. But make no mistake: The Royals would love Hosmer to be around to shepherd in the youth movement and rebuild.

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The truth is, there isn't a huge market for . He can still play high-quality defense, but his poor on-base percentage really hampers his market value. I think there's a good chance that Escobar could be around to sign on the cheap in late January or early February if the Royals want a backup plan in the event struggles at shortstop.

Kansas City believes right-hander Brad Keller will get a chance regardless of who might get traded out of the rotation. Right-hander , the other Rule 5 Draft pick the Royals acquired in a trade, likely will head to the bullpen with his power arm -- he can touch 100 mph.

This is a question I get a lot. The Royals' present deal with FOX Sports Kansas City ends after 2019. There are a lot of moving parts here, starting with Disney's acquisition of FOX and all its Regional Sports Networks. Will Disney turn these RSNs into ESPN-run operations (ESPN Kansas City)? Will Disney want to pour money into the RSNs? Whatever lays ahead, the Royals are hoping to beef up their local TV intake by anywhere from $20-40 million per year.

Moore said at the Winter Meetings that he has not spoken to Hochevar in a while. Kansas City isn't sure if Hochevar will return to baseball. It has been almost 18 months since Hochevar's thoracic outlet syndrome surgery, so Hochevar will possibly be ready for Spring Training. There would be interest in a reunion from the Royals' standpoint at a bargain price.

The near future will be . Moore said there is no interest right now in bringing back free agent , so it will be Orlando's job to start 2018. But the Royals are really hoping Bubba Starling turns the corner this year and can take over the job at some point. Defensively, Starling is ready. Offensively, it is a big ask.