KANSAS CITY -- When manager Ned Yost spoke of Alex Gordon at the Winter Meetings last month, he seemed confident the Royals would somehow find a way to re-sign their All-Star left fielder, even though the odds back then did not seem to be in the team's favor.
Yost admits he really didn't have any inside information for his premonition back then.
"I just kept thinking that I couldn't imagine Alex Gordon wearing a different uniform this year," Yost told MLB.com by phone. "That's all. No other reason."
Then two weeks ago, Royals general manager Dayton Moore and Gordon got a deal done, a four-year, $72 million contract.
And that will make Yost's job in 2016 a whole lot easier.
"It was just fantastic news," Yost said. "There would have been such a big hole to fill without Alex."
Yost notes that it isn't just Gordon's physical skills that make a difference to the Royals. Gordon's work ethic and presence in the clubhouse have a huge influence on his teammates, especially younger players such as Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas and others.
"He just fits," Yost said of Gordon. "He's part of us. He's such an influence on our chemistry, such a huge part of that.
"He never cheats, never takes a day off. The younger guys see that. Alex is a great example, a great visual example of how to go about your work. He doesn't short-cut anything."
And with Gordon, the Royals are again primed to compete for another trip to the World Series, Yost believes.
"If we can stay clear of injuries, no reason to believe we won't be right back in there fighting for another championship," Yost said. "This group really believes in themselves. They will be hungry to defend a title. They know they are just a hair from having won back-to-back championships and going for three straight.
"I have confidence they will hit Spring Training with the same attitude as always, and anything short of a championship will be a disappointment to them."
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.