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Talent-rich Royals drawing interest in Dallas

Talent-rich Royals drawing interest in Dallas

Talent-rich Royals drawing interest in Dallas
DALLAS -- Wearing a workout top and running shoes, Dayton Moore looked more ready to go jogging through the wet streets of Dallas than to go sprinting after a deal in the bustling lobby of the Hilton Anatole.

Indeed, the Royals' general manager, leaning back in a comfortable chair in the team's suite, really had nothing much to report as the first day of the Winter Meetings drew near a close on Monday.

Oh, there were Royals rumors racing about the lobby of the immense hotel. Given the club's interest in continuing to improve the pitching rotation, there was loose talk involving prominent starters.

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Not surprisingly, Wil Myers, the Royals' prize outfield prospect, figured in the deals being dreamed up and offered up as possible scenarios.

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For example, the Oakland A's were rumored willing to part with left-hander Gio Gonzalez for Myers and, oh, maybe a few other prospects from that rich Royals Minor League system.

Or the Tampa Bay Rays might swap right-hander James Shields for Myers, shortstop Christian Colon and, oh yes, closer Joakim Soria.

"It's inappropriate for me to comment on rumors," Moore said stoutly. But he didn't seem like a guy about to spring a major trade, especially one involving Myers, a right-handed batter who hit a modest .254 for Double-A Northwest Arkansas but became a hot ticket with a .360 average, 14 extra-base hits and 18 RBIs in 23 Arizona Fall League games.

"I'd like to keep Wil Myers' name out of the paper as much as possible," Moore said, not mentioning online outlets. "Wil Myers is a young, talented player. He had a tremendous Arizona Fall League. We live with him every day. We love him and he's a big part of our future. But he's a Double-A player. He's going to produce at his own natural rate. We're not going to put unrealistic expectations on him. What other cliche do you want?"

Doesn't sound like a guy ready to trade the kid, does he?

Gonzalez, a pitcher who has intrigued the Royals in the past, beat Kansas City twice in three encounters during his 16-12, 3.12-ERA season in 32 starts for the A's.

A trade for Gonzalez would put the Royals in the potential position of having four left-handed starters to go along with right-hander Luke Hochevar, but that possibility didn't bother Moore.

"No. We'd rather be left-handed-dominant than right-handed-dominant, especially when our bullpen stacks up with some quality right-handers," Moore said.

One of those quality right-handers, of course, is Soria, and his name inevitably surfaced in the rumor mill after the Royals signed free agent Jonathan Broxton, the former closer for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Trading Soria, however, would be a big gamble because Broxton has yet to throw a ball after undergoing arthroscopic elbow surgery in September. Not only that, but Soria is also under a club-friendly contract through 2014.

Moore, of course, is well aware of the big contracts recently bestowed on closers Jonathan Papelbon by the Philadelphia Phillies (four years, $50 million) and Heath Bell by the Miami Marlins (three years, $27 million). That makes the $22.75 million to keep Soria over the next three years look pretty good.

Shields is attractive to teams because last season, when he was 16-12, he posted a 2.82 ERA, pitched 11 complete games and piled up 249 1/3 innings. But obtaining him would be an expensive proposition, not only in players traded but in salary -- Shields' next three seasons are covered by club options worth a total of $28 million.

On other fronts, Moore acknowledged the Royals have been scouting the highly-publicized Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes in the Dominican Republic.

"We scouted him like all the other clubs did," Moore said. "We've seen him a lot as most of baseball has because he's been with the Cuban national team and he's played in all the major tournaments. He's a good player."

The Royals, however, are not likely to be in the picture if the price for Cespedes, 26, is near the $60 million he's reportedly seeking.

The Royals are checking out veteran backup infielders, preferably right-handed hitters. They do have one possibility already in house with switch-hitter Tony Abreu, a former Dodgers prospect who's been signed to a Minor League contract. He'll get a look in Spring Training.

Kansas City has also been linked to Carlos Guillen, the oft-injured former Detroit Tigers second baseman who is a free agent. Guillen played just 28 games last season but reportedly is in good health this offseason. He's a switch-hitter who could also play first base, third base or the outfield corners.

"There's going to be quite a few players like that still around in January if we want to supplement our team," Moore said. "Last year we picked up Pedro Feliz in late January. He didn't make our team but he gave us insurance. So we'll stay in the market for players that could kind of finish off our 25-man roster."

Now about those trade rumors floating through the lobby.

"The percentages of any club making a big trade are low," Moore said, but quickly added: "You never know."

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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