Royals focus on keeping young talent

Royals keeping young talent

MIAMI -- Now that pitcher Joakim Soria is in the Royals' fold for a while and outfielder David DeJesus is under contract until 2010, perhaps other young players will be in line for multiyear deals.

Royals general manager Dayton Moore left that possibility open.

"I think the most important thing to take from this is that we have a very talented group of young players," Moore said. "We expect to have a good baseball team long term and to do that you've got to have good players, obviously.

"So it's a just case-by-case basis. To do something like this, you have to have two willing partners and Joakim was very aggressive with us in pursuing a long-term deal. He came to us and we exchanged ideas."

Soria's deal includes a guaranteed $8.75 million for three years, 2009-2011, but there are three club option years beyond that could raise the total value to $32,350,000. That hinges on escalator clauses based on Soria's innings pitched as a starter or games finished if he remains a closer and, of course, the club picking up the options that run through 2014.

"I'm hoping I'm around for that whole contract," manager Trey Hillman said. "It'd be fun to watch him pitch that long for the Kansas City Royals. That's pretty cool."

Signing young players to long-term deals is a trend that seems to be sweeping the industry this year. The Royals have a wealth of rising young players including pitchers Zack Greinke and Brian Bannister, infielders Billy Butler and Alex Gordon and outfielder Mark Teahen.

In 2005, the Royals' previous administration signed DeJesus to a five-year contract worth a guaranteed $13.8 million through 2010 with a club option for 2011 that could boost the deal to around $20 million.

Gordon said that nothing is in the works for him.

"I just want to play and win games," Gordon said. "If something happens, it happens."

Bannister, though just in his second year as a full-time starter, is 27.

"It's definitely a trend among younger players, especially under the age of 25," he said. "I'm already 27 and I don't know if they kind of have a different plan for me. I'm just going to go out and do my job. I love playing for this organization, and I'd like to play for them for a long time, and we'll just see how it all plays out."

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.