A year ago in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., they departed Disney World holding agreements with outfielders Jeff Francoeur and Melky Cabrera. But they had not yet pulled off the Zack Greinke trade with Milwaukee that brought them shortstop Alcides Escobar. And pitchers Aaron Crow and Danny Duffy, first baseman Eric Hosmer, third baseman Mike Moustakas, second baseman Johnny Giavotella and catcher Salvador Perez still were Minor Leaguers, not yet the significant pieces of the Kansas City roster that they would become during the season.
"I don't want our people to lose sight of that as an organization, because we're better today than we were this time last year," general manager Dayton Moore said.
The four days at Dallas, though not newsy, were not wasted.
"Certainly a lot of groundwork can be laid and potentially put you in a position to make a deal before Spring Training or even into Spring Training. It's an opportunity for your entire organization to focus on each of the other 29 clubs and do more of an in-depth analysis, because you've got all of your people here," Moore said.
Last year, possible Greinke deals were discussed during the Meetings but the six-player trade with the Brewers didn't occur until 10 days later.
In fact, most of Moore's previous Winter Meetings as the Royals' GM were more lively than this one. His first, in 2006, resulted in signing pitcher Gil Meche for five years at $55 million and trading with the Mets for another starter, Brian Bannister. The Royals gave up closer Ambiorix Burgos and, as a result, signed veteran Octavio Dotel the day after the Winter Meetings ended. Ironically, their Rule 5 Draft choice that year was little-known Joakim Soria, who became their closer midway through the season.
In 2007, the Royals signed outfielder Jose Guillen to a three-year, $36-million deal. In 2008, they signed relievers Kyle Farnsworth and Doug Waechter and starter Horacio Ramirez. In 2009, they released first baseman Mike Jacobs and left-hander John Bale, and finalized the signing of catcher Jason Kendall the next day. Then came 2010, the year of Greinke trade talk.
A summary of the Royals' 2011 Meetings:
Deals done: Infielder Yamaico Navarro, picked up last summer from the Red Sox in the Mike Aviles trade, was traded to the Pirates for two Minor Leaguers, pitcher Brooks Pounders and infielder Diego Goris.
Rule 5 activity: The Royals took left-handed pitcher Cesar Cabral in the Major League phase and immediately dealt him to the Yankees for cash. In the Triple-A phase, they selected left-hander Thomas Melgarejo from the Dodgers' organization. The Royals lost no players in the Draft.
Goals accomplished: Players were analyzed by the entire baseball operations staff and groundwork laid for possible future moves.
Unfinished business: Still on the wish list are a starting pitcher, a left-handed relief specialist and a right-handed-hitting backup infielder.
GM's bottom line: "There are times when you have to make a lot of changes and there are times when you have to make just a few tweaks. We felt like we made some moves that strengthened our pitching staff prior to the Winter Meetings, and we've laid some groundwork for future opportunity. So it was productive." -- Moore