NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Royals manager Ned Yost, not surprisingly, has an upbeat attitude on right-hander Ervin Santana's outlook for 2013.
"I see a kid that has a tremendous slider. I see a kid that's highly motivated to have success," Yost said. "When I talked to [Angels pitching coach] Mike Butcher, Butch told me before we made a deal ... every time Santana's had a rough year, he's always bounced back very strong, and I look for him to do this again."
True enough. In 2007, Santana was 7-14 with a 5.76 ERA and in 2008, he went 16-7 with 3.49 ERA for an Angels team that won 100 games. And Santana turned his 8-8, 5.03 in 2009 into 17-10, 3.92 in 2010.
Last season, Santana was 9-13 with a 5.16 ERA.
"You know, he's a tremendous, talented pitcher who has headed up a really good rotation and pitched in the playoffs before," Yost said. "In our park with our defense, I think he's going to have a pretty good year."
Royals aren't entertaining Butler talks in Nashville
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Although manager Ned Yost keeps talking about the Royals hitting more home runs next year, that doesn't seem to stop speculation about a trade involving his top home-run hitter, Billy Butler.
If you believe rumors around the Winter Meetings, clubs are knocking on the Royals' door inquiring about the right-handed slugger who, on Tuesday, was anointed the game's top designated hitter with the Edgar Martinez Award. Supposedly Seattle and Baltimore were among those tap-tapping.
If so, the Royals weren't interested.
"We haven't even talked about Billy," Yost said. "Billy's name hasn't been brought up unless it's to say what a great year he had."
General manager Dayton Moore doesn't talk about trade-talk, but he didn't sound inclined to deal Butler coming off a season with 29 homers, 107 RBIs and a .313 average.
"Billy's a big part of our team, he's our All-Star, he won the Silver Slugger Award, he's won this very prestigious award today for DH's, the Edgar Martinez Award, so he's a big part of our offense," Moore said and then added: "We've got to score more runs and we're not going to score more runs if Billy Butler's not in the lineup."
The Royals recognized Butler's long-term value and on Jan. 22, 2011, signed him to a four-year, $30 million contract, including a club option for 2015. Butler is due to earn $8 million in each of the next two seasons.
Butler shrugged off the trade possibility.
"I've been in this game long enough to know that every time there's something written, I don't know the whole story or if what's been written is even accurate," he said. "I've been a Royal my whole career so I don't know what that would be like. I don't even want to think about that. I really enjoy what's going on right here. We've made some moves and we've really built something special here and that's all I care about, and that's all I care to look forward to."
On another front, there are strong indications that the Royals are not in the mix in the multi-club jockeying for Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, despite scuttlebutt around the Opryland Hotel. The Mets reportedly want Kansas City's top prospect, outfielder Wil Myers, but that's a deal that's being waved off by Royals officials.
Dickey might be the National League Cy Young Award winner but, after all, he's 38. Myers is 22 with a lot of years ahead of him.
Search for Escobar's backup not high on list
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Royals might want to add a veteran middle infielder to back up shortstop Alcides Escobar, but it doesn't seem to be a burning issue.
"It's not something we're focusing on right now, it's not something we're actively pursuing," general manager Dayton Moore said. "We like the group that we have, but we'll see what unfolds later in the winter and into Spring Training. You're always looking for strong middle infield options."
The club currently has Tony Abreu and Irving Falu as potential extra infielders on its roster as well as whoever loses the battle for the second base job between Chris Getz and Johnny Giavotella.
There's also up-and-coming prospect Christian Colon, currently playing well (.300) for Ponce in the Puerto Rican Winter League. Colon was signed as a shortstop but also has played second base.
"We feel he can play both. The way our team is set up now, with Alcides signed long term, it's natural option for him to slide over. But we've got other guys there, too," Moore said.
And perhaps more to come at some point. The Tigers were believed to be willing to part with Ramon Santiago, a sure-handed, strong-armed vet infielder.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.