The conversation occurs daily, and the message from Royals owner David Glass never wavers, general manager Dayton Moore said.
“He asks me every day, ‘What can we do to make our team better?’” Moore said in a telephone interview on Monday afternoon before his team began a four-game series with the American League Central Division-leading Tigers at Comerica Park.
As the Royals push for their first playoff berth since 1985, Moore is confident the team’s ownership would allow him to expand the club’s record-setting payroll at next month’s trading deadline — if, of course, Moore deems it necessary. The team possesses a rich base of prospects that could be enticing to potential sellers.
“We’re not in the business of losing money,” Moore said. “And it’s not my job to do anything to hurt this franchise long-term. But Mr. Glass has always been very supportive. It’s not about the money. It’s about who the players are.”
He added: “As I’ve said many times, the success of this team is going to be predicated on who we currently have on this roster. The talent is there. They’re very capable of continuing to produce at a high level. So that’s what we’ll expect to happen.”
After giving long-term contracts to free agents Omar Infante and Jason Vargas, the Royals’ payroll in 2014 is believed to exceed $92 million. During a conversation before the season, Moore indicated the team had exceeded its allotted budget and referred to the figure as a “gamble.” The total trumped the previous record, set in 2013, by more than $10 million.
Yet Moore insisted he does not expect to be financially handcuffed before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. The bigger decision, he explained, is finding a position to improve.
“There are certain areas where we just wouldn’t add or make changes in,” he said.
The play of third baseman Mike Moustakas has been disappointing, though team officials have yet to give up on his potential to contribute to a winning club. A more likely area to improve would be right field: Nori Aoki entered Monday’s game with a .639 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, more than 90 points below his average the two previous seasons in Milwaukee.
The market often does not heat up for another few weeks, and with the level of parity this season, the potential sellers are difficult to discern, Moore said. He stressed his team would favor internal options over making an addition by trade. But they will keep their options open.
“There’s a directive from Mr. Glass to make sure we’re doing everything we can each day to find ways to improve our team,” he said. “So that’s what we’ll continue to strive to do.”
Cain breaks out
Center fielder Lorenzo Cain snapped a zero-for-15 streak with a double in the sixth inning. In the bottom of the inning, he displayed his defensive prowess when he sprinted to his left and soared for a full-out dive to snag a sinking liner off the bat of J.D. Martinez.
“That’s probably one of my better catches,” Cain said.
Added starter Jason Vargas, who was saved a run, “It was a catch that you don’t see, maybe but once or twice in your time playing.”
Perez takes seat
Catcher Salvador Perez sat out the final three innings because of cramping in both his calves. He blamed the humidity but insisted he would be able to play today. The training staff infused him with fluids after he left the game.
Moustakas tries header
Third baseman Mike Moustakas indicated he felt fine after absorbing a groundball off his forehead in the ninth inning.
“I figured in honor of the World Cup, I’d try to headbutt one back to the dugout,” he said.