MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Moore not letting KC core's chance slip away

Moore not letting KC core's chance slip away

Even before the struggles of 2016 came to an end, Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore was emphatic that he was not about to oversee a major offseason overhaul of the team that ended a 30-year championship drought by winning the 2015 World Series.

Yes, the window of opportunity was closing on the core of the current roster.

It, however, has not been shut, and the Royals aren't about to walk away from the remaining opportunity to add another title to the resume.

This may be the last hurrah for that initial nucleus Moore and Co. put together upon their arrival from Atlanta to restore a Kansas City franchise that had fallen on hard times. If it is, Moore wants it to have a chance at a championship goodbye.

And that mindset has been underscored by the reported agreement to terms with Brandon Moss on a two-year, $12 million contract that fills the DH void created by Kendrys Morales following the path of free agency to Toronto, which signed him to a three-year, $33 million deal.

Moss to sign with Royals

Yes, first baseman Eric Hosmer, third baseman Mike Moustakas, center fielder Lorenzo Cain and shortstop Alcides Escobar are headed into the final year of their contracts, which also means it well could be their last year with the Royals.

No, Moore did not show any desire to consider offseason trade offers for any member of the quartet, which along with catcher Salvador Perez has become the cornerstone for the franchise. Now, if things don't go as hoped in the first half of the 2017 season, Moore could change that approach; assuredly, any contender would have big-time interest in any of the four.

For now, though, Moore is thinking more in terms of what Kansas City might want to add at the July 31 Trade Deadline than what the club might be willing to move.

The encore to that World Series championship in 2015 didn't go as hoped, but it wasn't a matter of a team that grew old and lost its ability to compete as much as it was a team that saw major injury losses of key players.

The Royals did deal former closer Wade Davis to the Cubs -- but not before they got a good look at Kelvin Herrera's ability to handle that role when Davis spent all but two weeks in July and August on the disabled list, and they did get the talented Jorge Solder in return to fill the right-field void.

And Kansas City sent speedy Jarrod Dyson to Seattle, but it added a needed rotation part, Nathan Karns, in return.

Royals trade for Karns

In other words, the Royals dealt valued talent for immediate help -- not a package of prospects who might develop for future use.

The key, however, is that Kansas City has reason to feel the team has reinforcements from within with the likes of a healthy Moustakas, Cain and left fielder Alex Gordon, whose season suffered lengthy interruptions due to injuries in 2016.

Gordon spent 33 days on the disabled list with a right wrist fracture. Moustakas first missed 16 days with a fractured left thumb, and five days after his return, he went on the DL again on May 26 with a season-ending torn right ACL. And Cain suffered a left hamstring strain that plagued him over the final three months of the season, limiting him to appearing in 29 of the final 60 games.

All three will report to Spring Training with a clean bill of health.

That doesn't mean all is well with the Royals.

They have had to deal with the death of right-hander Yordano Ventura, creating a major void in the rotation that was thin enough to start with that Jason Vargas was already slotted as one of the starting five despite being limited to 12 starts the last two seasons.

But the spring roster will include Mike Minor, hoping to come back from 2015 left shoulder surgery, and promising lefty Matt Strahm, who got his first big league test out of the bullpen in the second half of last year, responding with a 1.23 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 22 innings over 21 appearances.

There are challenges the Royals will need to answer. If they don't, Moore does have the ability to look for a major roster rebuild at Trade Deadline, when he could dangle some of the more attractive players who could be available.

Moore, however, wants to make sure the current roster gets a last hurrah.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.