As the 2011 Winter Meetings went into their final night on Wednesday and none of those items on the Kansas City wish list had been filled, it appeared that the Royals might close up shop on Thursday without making a deal.
That didn't bother general manager Dayton Moore at all. Looking back to a year ago when the Meetings concluded at Lake Buena Vista, Fla., he noted that the makeup of the Royals was quite different from the team that would finish the 2011 season.
The Royals had agreements then with outfielders Jeff Francoeur and Melky Cabrera but the Zack Greinke trade had not been made, so shortstop Alcides Escobar had not yet arrived. Pitcher Danny Duffy, first baseman Eric Hosmer, third baseman Mike Moustakas, second baseman Johnny Giavotella and catcher Salvador Perez were merely Minor Leaguers, not essential parts of the KC roster as they became during the 2011 season.
"I don't want people to lose sight of that, because we're better today than we were this time last year," Moore said.
In short, the Royals have not felt the urgency to ride the trade winds or shop the free-agent market this year. Holes have been filled, moves have been made over the past 12 months. And that includes the recent additions of starting pitchers Jonathan Sanchez and Bruce Chen and reliever Jonathan Broxton to the 2012 picture.
"We'd love to be able to acquire another starting pitcher that would fit in our rotation as a major upgrade, as do most clubs. But those guys are hard to find," Moore said. "But we're confident we've improved our pitching staff from the end of the season to where we are now."
The Royals certainly weren't going to jump into a free-agent battle for the likes of Mark Buehrle, who went for a four-year, $58 million deal with the Miami Marlins. And they weren't about to yield in a trade the favorite targets of other clubs: Moustakas, pitching prospects Mike Montgomery and Chris Dwyer, or up-and-coming outfielder Wil Myers.
"A lot of people have a lot of interest in our young guys, and that's good," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "That's really good. We like them and think they're going to be good players and help us win a championship, so we've got to be especially smart in the moves we make now."
The old baseball saying is, sometimes the best trade is the trade you don't make.
"We're in really good shape," Yost said, "because Dayton and our scouting people and player development have worked really hard to build this organization to where it is now. And to dismantle it [by trading] some of these young players really doesn't make sense at this time."
Getting a left-handed relief specialist who can retire left-handed batters is something Yost has added to the list. He views such a pitcher as someone who will complement southpaw Tim Collins, who's seen as more of a two-inning reliever.
Moore is looking for a right-handed-hitting backup infielder who could spell Moustakas or Escobar.
"You look for a guy that can play some short and maybe a right-handed bat with some power and play some third," Moore said. "You can look at it two ways -- you can go with a veteran guy who'll only play every eight to 10 days or you can go with a young guy that you want to control and be part of the future."
Such moves, however, are likely to come later -- perhaps after clubs make their decisions on which players they'll make available by not offering them contracts by midnight ET Sunday.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.