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Moore discounts Meche rumblings

Moore discounts Meche rumblings

INDIANAPOLIS -- The most popular rumors flying around the Royals during the Winter Meetings on Monday involved pitcher Gil Meche.

There was speculation that he might go to the New York Mets in a deal involving second baseman Luis Castillo. There was even a report the Chicago Cubs were discussing a Meche for outfielder Milton Bradley swap with the Royals.

All of which brought this somewhat incredulous reaction from Royals general manager Dayton Moore: "Unbelievable."

No, folks, don't wait for those deals to happen. Not that Moore would never trade Meche -- "We'll look at things that might make sense," he said -- but these rumors obviously didn't. The Royals are well-stocked with second basemen, notably Alberto Callaspo, Chris Getz and Willie Bloomquist. And there's no apparent fit for the ill-starred and very expensive Bradley, a report the Cubs quickly discounted anyway.

In fact, Moore gave no hint late Monday afternoon that the Royals had any type of deal imminent.

Meche, by the way, was declared healthy by Moore. After battling a cranky back early and finishing his 6-10 season on Aug. 29 because of shoulder fatigue, his durability might be a concern for teams looking at the $12 million remaining on each of the two years left on his contract.

"He could've pitched. He doesn't have a problem," Moore said. "He's fine."

So are, Moore added, fellow right-handed starters Brian Bannister and Kyle Davies, who also ended their seasons early.

"Banny's was his shoulder and Kyle's was his lat -- and that repairs itself," Moore said. "They should be fine."

Even though Moore says that no one is untradeable, there are some players that probably are close to that category. Cy Young winner Zack Greinke is one, of course, as are young players such as first baseman Billy Butler, closer Joakim Soria and third baseman Alex Gordon.

"I think it's important that we build around Zack Greinke and Joakim and Billy Butler, Gordon, [pitcher Luke] Hochevar, Callaspo. That's not to say that if we get some type of offer on any of our players, we wouldn't have to look at it and be open-minded," Moore said.

"There were certainly a lot of teams trying to acquire Zack Greinke prior to us signing him to a long-term deal, and we're very optimistic that he would put together a great season. That's not anticipating a Cy Young season, but players like that are once-in-a-lifetime guys, and if we're going to win, we need people like that. ... We've got to build around those guys."

Trying to improve the Royals' defense, Moore also mentioned that "[Yuniesky] Betancourt and Getz will give us some steadiness in the middle." Although Callaspo is assumed to be available on the trade market because of Getz's arrival from the White Sox, Moore noted that manager Trey Hillman could "mix and match" both players in the lineup. Callaspo could play some third or outfield as well as second.

"Alberto was better once Betancourt was there, but it just gives us more consistency there with Getz in the mix," Mooresaid. "The guy had six or seven errors in 100 games or something like that, so he's a pretty sure-handed guy and a heady player."

These are the type of ruminations that come during the Winter Meetings, along with rumors and speculation.

The Royals did make one definitive move Monday. They agreed to terms on a Minor League contract with right-hander Julio Pimentel. He cleared unconditional release waivers and became a free agent on Nov. 25.

Acquired by the Royals from the Los Angeles Dodgers in a 2006 trade, he was 12-4 with a 2.65 ERA the next year for Class A Wilmington. But after a 7-13 mark for Double-A Northwest Arkansas in 2008, he missed all of last season after undergoing elbow surgery. Now he's back in the fold.

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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