Three weeks later, the last loss still stings. David Glass enjoyed a month in the sun during October as his Royals raced to the World Series. His club played all the way until the seventh game, only to fall with the tying run 90 feet from home.
At the quarterly owners meetings here in Kansas City, Glass received a dose of cold comfort from outgoing commissioner Bud Selig, who stewarded Milwaukee during their run to the World Series in 1982.
“You never quite get over,” Selig told Glass. “But when you think back on it, you had a hell of a year.”
For Glass, the owner of the Royals since 2000, the challenge is returning to that stage. He avoided the spotlight for much of his team’s postseason stay. He likes to paint himself as a well-positioned observer, a fan with good box seats. He defers most questions about his club to his son, team president Dan Glass, and general manager Dayton Moore.
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The trio lunched together at the InterContinental Hotel on the Plaza on Thursday as the meetings wrapped to a close. The owners departed town. Moore returned to his task of refurbishing his team’s roster.
“I trust Dayton’s judgment and his people,” Glass said. “I think they’re as obsessed with winning as I am.”
The team set a record in 2014 as its payroll surpassed $94 million. That number figures to crack nine figures for the first time. Glass stopped short of declaring the $100 million milestone, but acknowledged the rising salaries for arbitration-eligible players like Greg Holland, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Danny Duffy and Lorenzo Cain.
“The way it works, it’ll cost a lot more just to keep the team intact,” Glass said. “But you want to always improve it, if you can.”
Glass shied away from discussing any specific plans for his club.
“I don’t know what Dayton wants to do at this point,” Glass said. “He and Dan are working on a lot of different possibilities. One of the things that I’ve learned over the years, it has nothing to do with the amount of money you spend. It’s what you spend it on. And so I think that’s what drives it for us: What’s available? What can we do? And what should we do?”
With James Shields expected to leave, Moore has prioritized finding a starting pitcher. The team has engaged in talks with both Shields and Jon Lester, but their more affordable targets include Ervin Santana and Francisco Liriano, according to people familiar with the situation.
Movement on the market has slowed here in November, for the most part, but the calendar calls for increased activity after Thanksgiving. The Royals have placed multiple irons in multiple fires: They remain interested in a deal with 39-year-old outfielder Torii Hunter. With Billy Butler departed for Oakland, the team could fill the void at designated hitter with Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas.
Moore led a contingent of Kansas City officials who worked out Tomas over the weekend in the Dominican Republic. The club appreciates the value of his bat, which is said to pack prodigious power, but remain wary of the potential price tag. Tomas is expected to seek a deal that could approach $100 million.
Under Glass, the Royals have always avoided costly, long-term contracts. Glass prefers a club built from within. Yet as the price for those players rises, and as they approach free agency, he understands retaining those players becomes more of a challenge.
“Philosophically, it’s important to keep your core group together,” Glass said. “These players play together as a team. To them, it’s more important that we win than their individual statistics. And that’s not always true with baseball players, or any professional athlete.
“And I think keeping that core group together, with that philosophy, is really important. And then I think you supplement with whatever you need. Dayton and his folks know very well where we stand to be able to improve. And I’m sure they’re working on it.”
During these meetings, Glass rubbed shoulders with Joe Torre, a winner of four championships in New York, now MLB’s executive vice president for baseball operations. Glass lamented his lack of enjoyment during the playoff run.
The games were so stressful, he explained. His schedule was so hectic. The moment passed so quickly.
“I’m still disappointed about game seven,” Glass said. “I’m a very poor loser. But I have to give the Giants credit. They played well. And winning three World Series in the last five years in remarkable. So I take my hat off to that organization and their players.
“But at the same time, I wanted us to win it all. But there is so much going on, and there are so many things that you have to do, and so much stress that goes with it — for someone like myself, going through it, you don’t really appreciate it or enjoy it as much as you do retrospectively. The reason I want to do it again real quick is so I can relax and enjoy the thing.”