Royals general manager Dayton Moore likes to say the job is never done. There is no finish line for a baseball front office. There is always the next move, the next challenge, the next opportunity to upgrade a roster. This is reality for a general manager, of course. But Moore can exhibit a special kind of tunnel vision.
And so, in the moments after the Royals had introduced veteran Brandon Moss in an afternoon news conference on Wednesday, Moore was already focused on the next domino, a move he did not know would be necessary just weeks ago.
The Royals possess a considerable void in their starting rotation, the result of the tragic death of pitcher Yordano Ventura earlier this month in the Dominican Republic. As the start of spring training looms in less than two weeks, the Royals appear determined to fill the hole.
“We’ll do something,” Moore said. “I think we’ll do something. I got a feeling. I don’t know what, but certainly before spring training.”
For the Royals, the grieving process continues. There is no script after the death of a teammate and a friend. The feeling of loss will linger all season and beyond.
But the season will continue, the calendar will press on, and from a baseball perspective, the unexpected death of Ventura altered the calculus of the final weeks of the offseason. The Royals expected to spend the final weeks of spring training looking for help for their bullpen and perhaps depth for their starting rotation. Now the need is even more pressing.
The Royals will open the spring training with three locks in their rotation. Danny Duffy and Ian Kennedy sit atop the staff, while left-hander Jason Vargas is poised for his first full season since returning from Tommy John surgery last September. The club also possesses right-hander Nathan Karns, acquired from Seattle in a trade for outfielder Jarrod Dyson. When the deal was executed, the Royals expected Karns to compete for the club’s final spot in the rotation. But now the club faces the reality of two vacant slots. Karns remains likely to slot somewhere at the back end of the rotation. But the fifth spot remains a question mark.
Moore has expressed confidence that veteran right-hander Chris Young will rebound after a disastrous 2016. The club could also lean on a young group of homegrown pitchers, including left-hander Matt Strahm, 25, injury-prone right-hander Kyle Zimmer, 25, and rising prospect Josh Staumont, 23.