Royals manager Ned Yost said Friday that he plans to return for a ninth season in 2018. That’s hardly surprising. He remains under contract for one more year.
Yet in an interview before a series opener in Chicago, Yost was forceful and direct in signaling his intentions to manage at least one more season in Kansas City.
“I’m not walking away,” he said. “For me, I love this organization. And to be able to transition some of these young players, it’s going to be easier for me to do it than anybody else. So yeah, I want to be a part of it for a little bit longer.”
Yost, the winningest manager in Royals history, is set to finish out his seventh full season at the beginning of next month. In his time at the helm, he has overseen one youth movement and guided the Royals to consecutive World Series, including the franchise’s second world championship in 2015.
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The Royals, however, could find themselves at a crossroads of sorts this winter. They face a pending free-agent exodus, including the potential losses of Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain. Barring an improbable run during the season’s final 10 days, the club will miss the playoffs for a second straight season following the 2015 World Series title.
Yet Yost, 62, said there was no scenario in which he would not return in 2018. If the Royals embark on another rebuild — no matter the scale — Yost said he wanted to be involved.
“Am I going to see this thing through? No,” Yost said. “But I want to get a firm footing and a firm foundation on the ground so that somebody can … in two years, whatever it is, when we get back to where we can feel like we can compete again, then boom.
“It’s going to be easier for me to transition these younger guys. When I don’t pinch hit for (Raul) Mondesi in the eighth inning, because we’re trying to develop him, it’s going to be easier for me to take the flack than somebody else.”
To be clear, Yost said he expects the Royals to be competitive next season. He also pointed to a possible infusion of young talent, including Mondesi, Cheslor Cuthbert, Jorge Soler, Jorge Bonifacio and Jakob Junis, among others.
“There’s still an aspect of development with these young players,” Yost said, before adding: “You’ve got young guys. We still got quality veterans. I don’t know what we’re gonna do this winter, who we’re going to sign back. I’m not gonna worry about that right now.”
For now, Yost remains more concerned with making one final push for a playoff spot. The Royals entered Friday at 75-77, 3 1/2 games behind the Minnesota Twins in the race for the second American League wild card. To have a realistic chance, the Royals would likely need to win eight or nine of their final 10 games.
Yet when the topic of his future surfaced on Thursday, Yost assumed a familiar posture — one that could perhaps be described as amicably combative.
In one moment, Yost described an inquiry into whether he would manage next season as a “stupid question.”
“I’m under contract next year,” he said.
Later, when a reporter asked whether he would be comfortable managing next season on the final year of his contract, Yost said he did not care.
“That’s no issue for me,” he said. “None. Zero. I’ll gladly go year to year and probably will.”
Yost signed his most recent contract in the spring following the 2015 World Series. The deal extended through the 2018 season. On Thursday, he said he would consider staying even longer.
Moments later, one final question was posed: So was there any scenario that would cause him to change his mind this winter? Yost stated there was not — before offering another classic Yost moment.
“None,” he said. “Unless I die.”