GM Moore preparing Royals for '09

GM Moore preparing Royals for '09

KANSAS CITY -- The process of ratcheting up the Royals for 2009 is under way.

"We're having conversations with other clubs about players that may or may not be available," general manager Dayton Moore said. "We're just trying to define where the matchups may be with other organizations."

A fourth-place finish after four years of last place was encouraging, but Moore and the Royals are not about to stand pat.

"We're going to try to upgrade every place on the field. That's what we're going to have to do," he said. "Realistically, you're not going to change out 25 players, but we've got to develop a mind-set where we've got to upgrade every place on the diamond."

The top two priorities remain the same.

"A proven, productive offensive player regardless of the position and improving the depth of our starting pitching," Moore said.

A power hitter to bat in front of or behind Jose Guillen would be preferable, but Moore is cutting a wider swath in his search for more runs.

"For us, just an offensive player. Yeah, in a perfect world we'd love to have a legitimate big-time four-hole hitter or three-hole hitter, no question, but I'd just look at a productive offensive player," he said.

Rather than pure power, Moore might opt for someone with a high on-base percentage who could also steal bases and maybe bat first, second or third in the lineup.

Beefing up a rotation headed by Gil Meche and Zack Greinke is a priority, but it will not be done by bringing Joakim Soria out of the bullpen to start.

"No, I don't think so," Moore said. "It's something that we talk about. There are people in our organization that think we ought to do that, but I get the last vote and right now we're voting to keep him in the closer's role."

Not that Soria couldn't become a good starter, in Moore's view, but his current role is extremely valuable.

"One of the most important qualities of a successful closer is that he creates a perception in the opponents' dugout that the game is over," Moore said. "And I think Joakim is beginning to develop that kind of aura about him."

Bringing in another middle infielder to pair with rookie star Mike Aviles is a possibility. Aviles, who took the shortstop job in June, finished the season with Alberto Callaspo as the second baseman.

"Of the areas where we feel like we need the most improvement, our middle infield is not the highest priority," Moore said.

"If we had to begin the season tomorrow with Mike Aviles, Callaspo, [Tony] Pena and [Esteban] German as our middle-infield candidates, we are pleased with that."

That's not to say, he hastened to add, that he wouldn't acquire a shortstop or a second baseman if the right guy came along.

There are three avenues Moore will travel in his quest to upgrade the club.

"The first place we always look is internally. Then we always look to possible trades we can make. And the third option is free agency," he said.

Also on Moore's to-do list is adding two coaches to the Major League staff to replace hitting coach Mike Barnett and third-base coach Luis Silverio, who were not retained.

"We're preparing lists, doing background work and beginning the interview process," Moore said.

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