NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Make no mistake, the Royals are aiming high in their bid to find a front man for their rotation. General manager Dayton Moore all but dismissed interest in the recent free agents created by the non-tender process until other efforts play out.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
“It’s not necessarily anything we’re diving into right now,” he said. “We’re trying to upgrade with guys who will make a major difference to our team. How many opportunities do you get to do that? Not many.”
While efforts to acquire Boston lefty Jon Lester appear to have cooled, the Royals remained linked to Tampa Bay in discussions for right-handers James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson; and with the New York Mets for knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.
Club officials seemed to characterize Seattle as a fall-back option because, while it is looking to trade arms for bats, it aren’t willing to part with former Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez.
Seattle’s other offerings are generally viewed as mid-rotation candidates or unproven prospects. For now, the Royals are seeking a difference-maker and weighing the cost of doing so.
“It’s costly in both ways,” Moore said. “Good players are usually making good money, and they cost a lot to get in terms of talent.”
Outfielder Wil Myers, the consensus minor-league player of the year, remains a popular trade target among rival teams, although some prefer a more-established player such as left fielder Alex Gordon, designated hitter Billy Butler or first baseman Eric Hosmer.
“Do you want to go do that and mortgage what you’re doing in the future?” Moore asked. “When all of our guys met last night, I congratulated them on what we’ve done to this point (in acquiring Ervin Santana and retaining Jeremy Guthrie).
“We should not feel any pressure to do something we’re not comfortable with because we’ve already accomplished a lot.”
Any deal with the Rays would likely involve Myers since they filled their need for a first baseman Monday by signing free agent James Loney to a one-year deal for $2 million.
The Mariners and Orioles show strong interest in Butler, although Seattle appears to lack the ready-now impact arm the Royals covet.
Baltimore appears an even tougher match unless it shifts gears and makes top prospect Dylan Bundy available. Its current offers include Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta and Zach Britton. The Royals don’t appear to regard any as a sufficient return.
FanFest is back
The Royals announced plans Monday to reinstitute FanFest, their winter festival, after a one-year absence but in limited form. It will be a one-day event on Jan. 19 at the Overland Park Convention Center.
The club is promising “more autograph opportunities than ever before, with continuous autograph sessions with current and former players and club personalities planned throughout the event.”
There will also be interactive games, round-table discussions involving players and front-office officials and the presentation of awards, including player of the year to designated hitter Billy Butler and pitcher of the year to closer Greg Holland.
The FanFest will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Advanced ticket sales are $6 for youth aged six to 17, and $12 for adults. Tickets are $8 and $14 when purchased at the door. Children under six are admitted free.
Season-ticket holders will be notified of an opportunity to buy advance tickets for $3 and $6, youth and adult, and receive early access at 9 a.m.
General tickets can be purchased by calling or visiting at Kauffman Stadium or online at Royals.com/FanFest. The stadium business hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The phone number is 816-504-4040.
The Hall of Fame added three members when its Pre-Integration Era Committee elected umpire Hank O’Day, former Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert and 19th century catcher/first baseman Deacon White.
The 16-member committee considered 10 nominees whose contributions to the game occurred primarily before 1947. The Hall has three such committees that convene once every three years. The others are for 1947-72 and 1973 through present day.
O’Day was a National League umpire for 30 years and made the 1908 call that resulted in a force out when Fred Merkle of the Giants failed to touch second base on an apparent game-winning single.
Previously, players routinely did not bother to touch second on such walk-off hits. O’Day’s call provided the Cubs with an opportunity to win the pennant and, subsequently, the World Series. The play was also forever dubbed “Merkle’s boner.”
Ruppert owned the Yankees from 1915 until his death in 1939. He built the franchise into the game’s preeminent power by acquiring Babe Ruth and building Yankee Stadium. The club won 10 American League pennants and seven World Series titles under his ownership.
White played from 1871-90 in the National Association, National League and Players League. He was a two-time batting champ and led his league in RBIs on three occasions. He also spent much of his career as a bare-handed catcher who didn’t wear a mask.
All three will be inducted July 28 in the annual ceremony in Cooperstown, N.Y., along with any player elected in annual balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The BBWAA results will be announced Jan. 9.
Two of the Royals’ veteran front-office officials, Mike Arbuckle and Mike Toomey, were among this year’s nominees for Scout of the Year honors. Nominees must have at least 25 years of full-time scouting experience.
Arbuckle was a Midwest Scout of the Year nominee. He serves as a senior advisor to the general manager for scouting and player development. Toomey was nominated for East Coast Scout of the Year. He is a special assistant to the general manager.
Former Royals scouting director Terry Wetzel, now with Colorado, was a Midwest nominee.
This year’s recipients: Buzz Bowers, Red Sox, East Coast; Don Welke Rangers, Midwest; Richard Keough, Cardinals, West Coast; and Fred Ferreira, Orioles, international. All will be honored at a dinner on Wednesday.
Previous winners from the Royals’ organization: Art Stewart (2008), Bob Bishop (2006), Buck O’Neil (1998), Albert Kubski (1993) and Rosie Gilhousen (1986).
It was 43 years ago Monday — Dec. 3, 1969 — that the Royals acquired outfielder Amos Otis and pitcher Bob Johnson from the New York Mets – the World Series champion New York Mets – for third baseman Joe Foy.
Otis spent the next 14 seasons with the Royals. He won three Gold Gloves, was a five-time All-Star and was picked three times as the Royals’ player of the year. He joined pitcher Steve Busby in 1986 as the inaugural inductees into the Royals Hall of Fame.