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Shrewd moves at Meetings bolster Royals

Late offseason deals may be in store as Kansas City works within budget
December 13, 2018

LAS VEGAS -- After signing utility man Chris Owings last week, the Royals moved quickly at the Winter Meetings and signed speedy outfielder Billy Hamilton to be their center fielder.The Royals also added two right-handers Sam McWilliams and Chris Ellis in the Rule 5 Draft, hoping one or both could

LAS VEGAS -- After signing utility man Chris Owings last week, the Royals moved quickly at the Winter Meetings and signed speedy outfielder Billy Hamilton to be their center fielder.
The Royals also added two right-handers Sam McWilliams and Chris Ellis in the Rule 5 Draft, hoping one or both could be the next Brad Keller, who was taken last year in the Rule 5 Draft and emerged as a top-of-the-rotation guy.
All in all, not a bad haul for Royals general manager Dayton Moore, who is working on a limited budget for 2019.

Biggest remaining needs
1. Bullpen
It's no secret the Royals' bullpen was the weakest part of last season's team, and Moore has indicated he still may add an arm or two via free agency, once the market prices lower as Spring Training nears. Don't be surprised if the Royals add one or two cost-efficient relievers.
2. Starting pitching
While the Royals believe they have eight or nine viable starting-rotation candidates right now, they could be on the lookout for any veteran starters who haven't signed in late January or early February. Some of the rotation candidates who don't make the cut could be bullpen candidates.
3. Corner infielders
On the surface, it wouldn't seem like the Royals would have any interest in a corner infielder. They have Ryan O'Hearn and possibly Frank Schwindel competing for the first-base job, and they have Hunter Dozier and Cheslor Cuthbert competing at third. But they may look for more veteran depth.

Rule 5 Draft
As expected, the Royals were active at Thursday's Rule 5 Draft. They view both McWilliams and Ellis as potential starters in the long term, but it seems likely that both will start out in the bullpen. They took Keller and Burch Smith in the 2017 Rule 5 Draft, and while Keller was outstanding, Smith was a disappointment and opted for free agency last month after being moved off the 40-man roster. The Royals also surprisingly lost 18-year-old Elvis Luciano, their No. 23 prospect, to the Blue Jays.
GM's bottom line
Royals general manager Dayton Moore on the signing of Hamilton:
"It makes us better. And it gives us two things that show up every day -- defense and speed. … We want a motion game."

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