Royals turn attention to rotation depth

Gordon's deal allows flexibility to pursue another starter

Royals turn attention to rotation depth

KANSAS CITY -- Now that the Royals have brought back All-Star left fielder Alex Gordon with a four-year, $72 million deal, what's next for the 2016 Royals?

For openers, find another starting pitcher.

Gordon returns to KC with 4-year deal

The Royals, at the moment, will enter 2016 with a rotation of Edinson Volquez, Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy, Kris Medlen and Chris Young. Former Mets Opening Day starter Dillon Gee also has been signed.

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But Royals general manager Dayton Moore is adamant about entering each season with at least eight viable starting candidates.

"I think you have to," Moore said of that number. "There will be attrition. There will be guys breaking down. You better have depth."

Justice: Gordon back where he belongs

So expect Moore and his scouting department to continue to be on the prowl for another starter. To that end, the club signed Chien-Ming Wang to a Minor League deal on Thursday.

Gordon's deal, which is backloaded and will cost the Royals only $12 million in 2016, allows Moore the financial room to seek another starter.

Gordon on new four-year deal

Moore has indicated that the payroll won't rise significantly from last year's Opening Day payroll, which was about $114 million. With estimates on arbitration cases and Gordon's salary, the Royals' payroll would stand a few million above last year's Opening Day payroll.

Gordon agreed to backloading his deal so the Royals would have more wiggle room this season.

"That was definitely a focus," Gordon said. "[We wanted] to be able to be competitive not just now, but for the next four or five years. We can do that, especially with [Moore] running the ship. I don't' think that will be a problem."

The Royals were linked to left-hander Scott Kazmir, who signed with the Dodgers. And they have been linked to free-agent right-hander Ian Kennedy, though it seems more likely that Moore will seek a more cost-efficient approach to finding another starter. Kennedy likely will command over $10 million a year, and he would cost a suitor a Draft pick because he declined a qualifying offer.

"We'd love to find another starter out there who could get 200 innings," Moore said. "Is that possible? We'll see.

"There's still some trade possibilities. We'll look into free-agent pitchers that are on the market. There's work left to do. We're going to continue to work on the roster, massage it. If you look at last year and the evolution of the roster, there were adjustments made throughout. I'm confident we'll be able to continue to do that and put the best lineup on the field to win the [American League] Central and compete for a title.

"I certainly don't have a push-button team that's ready to go now."

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.